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Ravel - Pizarro - Manchester Evening News


02 March 2007
Manchester Evening News
Robert Beale

The most notable thing about Ravel's piano works, in the opinion of some, is their near-impossibility to play. Anyone who tackles them must have about 20 fingers on each hand and then some. Finding the music behind the cascades of notes is the problem. It's one that Artur Pizarro solves in part in this, the volume one of his recording of the complete oeuvre. At its best (sometimes its most difficult, too) Ravel's writing, with its shimmer of figuration and exotic harmonic mist of modal and chromatic effects which encourages one to write of heavy perfumes and eastern allure, is potent, indeed. The first piece of Gaspard De La Nuit (recognised as the peak of his piano achievement), Ondine, is an example. The toiling bells if Le Gibet form an interlude before the final section, Scarbo, which is a tour de force of pianistic fireworks. In other pieces, from the Miroirs set, it can tend to jade the palate - though Alborada Del Gracioso is known in its orchestral guise as a vivid example of a Frenchman in "Spanish" style. La Valse is also far better known as an orchestral piece: the piano version certainly accentuates its hard-edged satire - and ultimate explosion - of the Viennese Waltz.  
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