Hallelujah! Put out the fatted calf! At last a thoroughly recommendable set of the Ravel Piano Concertos on SACD.
When reviewing the (extremely) sub-par efforts of Roget on Oehms, I commented that we had to retrieve our vinyl and - even - RBCD to hear these works performed well. But we can now safely return these to the shelves.
Bavouzet, the BBCSO and Tortelier are clearly of one mind in these performances. Bavouzet's playing is refined, sophisticated and just has precisely the right degree of distanced Gallic passion. The pieces flow and are structured immaculately. In short, these are thoroughly engaging, exciting and idiomatic performances.
And the fill-ups? The Massenet solo piano pieces are tuneful, interesting and pleasant miniatures. However, the Debussy Fantasie which opens the disc is - frankly - inconsequential and eminently unmemorable IMO.
The sound quality is superb throughout - with one small proviso I will come to in a minute. The piano tone is liquid, focussed and refined. The whole recording is superbly crystalline and transparent, in the best Chandos manner. As a result, every strand of the delicate orchestration in these pieces is beautifully revealed.
Now the small proviso. The piano is nicely set in a mid-hall perspective. However, I then find the orchestra too close- in other words, the piano and orchestra are a tad too close together; I would have preferred greater distancing of the latter, in normal Chandos house style! That would also have produced more hall sound.
But let's not quibble over minutiae. Bottom line, this is a fine and wholly recommendable disc.