Ravel: The Complete Piano Solo Works, Vol. 1 - Pizarro

Ravel: The Complete Piano Solo Works, Vol. 1 - Pizarro

Linn Records  CKD 290

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental

Ravel: Jeux d’eau, Gaspard de la nuit, Sérénade grotesque, Miroirs, La Valse

Artur Pizarro (piano)

In 2006 Artur Pizarro embarked on the complete solo works of Ravel & Debussy in a series of live performances in London, Lisbon and Århus, that met with critical success: "Ravel's La Valse virtuosic difficulties are manifold...his technique and musical qualities were fully up to the astounding demands of the piece" (Musical Opinion).

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Reviews (1)

Review by John Broggio - January 13, 2008

I so desperately want to wholeheartedly recommend this disc but sadly I cannot for only one (major) reason: the sound. Even so, the playing is of such high quality that this issue demands hearing.

The playing of Artur Pizarro is very fine throughout. In the opening Jeu d'Eau, he imparts a muscular though never insensitive impression of the water. First impressions though were distracted by the extraordinarily vague focus of the sound: it is as though a good recording has been relayed into an empty swimming pool and re-recorded! A very strange phenomenon and not at all pleasant for repeated listening. This issue affects all of the disc which is a great shame.

Compared to other modern accounts that are highly recommendable from a musical standpoint finds Pizarro giving us straighter but no less magical accounts than, say, Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Decca, RBCD). Pizarro's approach in Miroirs is less refined or perfumed in the more taxing parts (no wrong notes - just less delicate) but this is a choice that can work both ways and I wouldn't want to be without either; the music is just as entrancing either way. In a similar way, Gaspard de la nuit is also given a comparatively straight reading and many might feel that the playing is all the better for this - I would occasionally have liked a little more fantasy but it is hard when the recording is so bizarre.

The greatest shame is that the recording ruins an absolutely astonishing closing account of La Valse - it can surely never have been played with such aplomb or panache on piano before; it is so good that the sound in the head is orchestral not black and white! Quite brilliant virtuosity and an amazing sense of musicality that is highly captivating and is a thrilling end to a great recital - quite removed from the disappointing Rimsky-Korsakov: Piano Duos - Pizarro, Panomariovaite.

But the sound, oh the sound - terrible in the extreme and one wonders how it got to by pressed; when RBCD's sound far better than a modern SACD it is time to complain... Just in case it was a MCH issue, I took the unusual step (for me) of listening to the stereo and RBCD layers and this is inherent in all 3 layers. Oh dear. Let us hope that the second volume is better managed and that perhaps a re-pressing could correct the all too audible problems.

Fortunately, the Gaspard on Balakirev, Ravel, Mussorgsky - Kempf is far better recorded and is just as compelling a performance.

Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and


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