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RAVEL The complete solo piano music

Gaspard de la nuit
La valse

Le tombeau de Couperin

Menuet in C sharp minor
Menuet antique
Sérénade grotesque
Jeux d’eau
Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn
À la manière de Borodine
À la manière de Chabrier
Pavane pour une infante défunte

Valses nobles et sentimentales

Steven Osborne

Hyperion CDA67731-2

Maurice Ravel (1875–1937), never a virtuoso pianist, explored and invented continually, "horrified at the thought of repeating himself".

Ravel had "obsessed" Steven Osborne since he was a teenager and 6 days of recording at Henry Wood Hall, London (July & September 2010) satisfied a long prepared ambition.

I doubt if any of his rivals will significantly better these CDs, which have given us deep satisfaction and delight; they are sensitively recorded and well annotated by the doyen of French music commentators, Roger Nichols and by Osborne himself.

My only regret is that Hyperion still sticks to old-fashioned "jewel cases" for their packaging; they are particularly unsatisfactory for housing multiple discs.


Piano Sonatas—No. 1 in C major, J138; No. 2 in A flat major, J199; No. 3 in D minor, J206; No. 4 in E minor, J287.
Invitation to the dance—Rondo brillant in D flat major, J260. Rondo brillante in E flat major, J252, "La gaite". Momento capriccioso in B flat major, J56.

Garrick Ohlsson

Hyperion dyad CDD22076Despite Ohlssohn's undoubted excellence, these sonatas are tiring to listen to, especially after the varied pleasures of Ravel's continually creative magic, and probably tiring to play too.

To my taste, Weber is facile, writes too many notes and his writing easily sinks to the formulaic.

I should however be interested to try hearing them again on a lighter piano of the period, such as have led to revaluation of some Liszt's and Chopin's piano music *.

For a sympathetic appreciation of this half-price re-release, do however see Gramophone's review of the original CDs (Arabesque, 1989) by John Warrack.

* Grimwood on Erard

AND q.v. Andrew Brownell re. Hummel:
" - - It seems a bit silly to exert oneself so much playing all those notes on the heavy action of the modern piano..."

Peter Grahame Woolf