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Piano Concertos / Gaspard De La Nuit Original recording remastered


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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G major (1997 Digital Remaster): First movement: AllegramenteSamson François/Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/André Cluytens 7:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G major (1997 Digital Remaster): Second movement: Adagio assaiSamson François/Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/André Cluytens 8:38£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G major (1997 Digital Remaster): Third movement: PrestoSamson François/Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/André Cluytens 4:02£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Concerto for Piano (the Left-Hand) and Orchestra (1997 Digital Remaster)Samson François/André Cluytens/Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire18:27Album Only
Listen  5. Gaspard de la nuit (after Aloysius Bertrand) (1997 Digital Remaster): OndineSamson François 7:11£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Gaspard de la nuit (after Aloysius Bertrand) (1997 Digital Remaster): Le gibetSamson François 5:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Gaspard de la nuit (after Aloysius Bertrand) (1997 Digital Remaster): ScarboSamson François 9:36£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Precisely why Samson François is not better known in the United States (or known at all for that matter) is a mystery. On this CD he plays Ravel with absolute mastery, refusing to prettify any of the jazz rhythms in the G major concerto, and by so doing, bringing out all of its toughness. There may be impressionism in this music, but there's plenty more, too. François gives the Concerto for Left Hand a performance filled with passion and excitement; indeed it's just this side of abandon. His Gaspard is full of the colors Ravel imbued it with as well. André Cluytens is the ideal leader for this type of music, and while his orchestra here is hardly world class, it's very good. And the remastered sound is excellent. --Robert Levine

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
One of the best, yet original 3 Aug. 2000
By Mark McCue - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
We don't hear of Francois too much--he's been dead quite awhile, so we only get the occasional reissue.
This was some of his best work. He had a shag about him in Ravel. He insisted on Cluytens and this superb orchestra for this recording, precisely because of the sensitivity to jazz elements it had developed...playing a lot of Milhaud I imagine.
No one here speaks about his unique bass line, so I will. It's the first thing you hear in the Left Hand. Rich. Powerful. No clatter. No tubbiness. No one knew quite how he did it, but it was a unique sound. This firm grounding keeps the snazziness of the other ranges well pinned down, as if these two concerti were really rather vertical. There's a masculine power here that no one else ever got, and this could be considered a characteristic of the pianist, probably more than any other element.
Another thing was his ultra-clean pedal technique and sense of blend. In the G major we hear time and again where Francois and Cluytens had to have gone over the harmonic overtones to get the effects they get. The only other pianist in these pieces to work with this element was Monique Haas and her maestro Paul Paray, but they approached it from her strong carillon highs on down. This kind of consideration opens up a whole new world of sound contained in Ravel. Going at it from below as Francois does would be somewhat easier to capture in recordings I imagine.
Francois' pedal is again evident in his solo work here, but I somewhat miss the greater degree of involvement he achieves in the concerti. This seems to have been true across his repertoire, Liszt among everything else, that he presented in his recitals.
Do get this Francois/Cluytens and put it on your shelf filed at the front with Haas/Paray. Listen often to both and recognize their considerable virtues as the prime interpretations of these works.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
An Evening with Ravel 14 Sept. 2005
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was pleased to have the opportunity to get to know better Ravel's piano concertos and an outstanding if eccentric French pianist, Samson Francois (1924 --1970). This CD is a reissue on the EMI "Great Recordings of the Century" series of music first recorded in 1960. In the concertos, Andre Cluytens conducts the Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire.

Ravel wrote his two concertos in the early 1930s following a trip to the United States. He was much taken with American jazz and with the music of George Gershwin, and his fascination with American music is reflected in the first piano concerto in G major. Francois plays throughout with a lively, jazzy feel and with great technique. The orchestral part is highly rhythmical (Listen to the castanets!) and disjointed with the piano writing well integrated and, in its arpeggios and filigree, acting as a counterweight to the orchesta. Ravel was a master of orchestration, and their are lovely solos for winds, percussion and harp. The slow movement of this concerto is all piano. It consists of a plaintive, slow, long-lined piano solo which develops a blusey feel as it proceeds. Ravel is said to have composed this movement with the score of the slow movement of Mozart's clarinet quintet in front of him, as a model for restrained yet deep expression and simplicity. The finale returns to extroverted jazzy music with passages for brass, winds, and snare drum. The piano solo is full of swirling passages in a quick, swing rhythm.

Ravel's second concerto in D "for the left hand" is much more somber in tone. The work was commissioned by pianist Paul Wittgenstein who lost his right arm during WW I. Ravel and Wittgenstein subsequently had near-falling out as the composer believed that Wittgenstein took too many liberties with the score. Fortunately Wittgenstein and Ravel worked out a compromise. This is a one-movement work of about 20 minutes which places great demands on the soloist. The piano writing is virtuosic in the extreme, with long arpeggios, huge chords in the piano's lower register, extended solo passages, and leaps from one part of the keyboard to the other. There are also some brilliant glissandos at key points in the music. The piece begins slowly, works to a crescendo in the orchestra, followed by long, rhapsodic writing for the piano. Mid-way, a rather odd march theme begins in the orchestra which again is developed with an overpowering piano part. The piano part throughout this concerto features long, unaccompanied, difficult writing and is uncommonly naked and exposed.

The final work on this CD, the solo piano suite "Gaspard de la Nuit" dates from 1908. It is a work of romanticism based upon three poems by Aloysius Bertrand (1807 -1841). Ravel had a fascination with the nocturnal, the mysterious, and the evil, as reflected in Bertrand and in the work of his American contemporary, Edgar Allen Poe. Ravel began with the idea of writing a parody of Bertrand but fell in with the mood of the poems in spite of himself. He composed one of the most romantic and difficult works in the piano literature. The opening movement "Ondine" is the tale of a water nymph looking for a human lover. It is played quietly in the piano's upper register with a great deal of filigree. A slow and shimmery melody sings forth in the middle of the piano. The second movement "gibet" tells a macabre tale of a condemned man swinging on the gallows. Ravel's music features a repeated note throughout which is surrounded by a funereal theme in the low bass. The finale, Scarbo, tells the story of a wicked goblin, who appears from nowhere, works himself into a furious and extended climax, and then disappears. This was something of a signature piece for Francois and he captures the goblin in all its ferocity.

Francois was a romantic and idiosyncratic pianist who did not hestitate to take liberties with the score. (Remember the dispute between Paul Wittgenstein and Ravel discussed above.) In the 19th Century, it was often accepted that the performer would bring his own ideas and interpretations to bear upon a work, even when those differed from the composer's markings. Modern practice tends to be far more restrained and textually committed in this regard. Thus, Francois's playing and interpretations are controversial. It is good to be reminded that there are choices to be made in the interpretation of music and that there are legitimate alternatives in performance practice. In this CD, I found that Francois played with eclat and feeling. The first concerto felt jazzy, the second virtuosic and brilliant, and Gaspard de la Nuit mysterious and atmospheric. This music had, for some reason, not made much of an impression on me before hearing this performance. Francois brought it to life.

Robin Friedman
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Samson Francois : the pupil beyond the master (Cortot) 11 April 2004
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
"Playing the piano?:what a nasty thought; but playing with the piano". These wise words are from Francois. The statement is very descriptive of Francois`craft. Wilhelm Fürtwangler said in a letter: How can we learn anything if we don`t love it and how can we love it if we don`t learn it? . This sentence runs with the idea subcribed by S.F. When you are in the presence of an integral artist it`s very easy understand why they are so original in his performances. In fact, to be a master in an instrument (think in Casals,Vegh,Fürtwangler, Francois,Neveu, Fricsay,Schnabel and Kempff) by example, you must be a reinassance man in the literal sense of the word. Francois was one of the elite of artists. You'll find a Ravel really deep and amazing honest. The gaspard is played with a sense of incorporean and mesmerizing pianism that envolves you. The same occurs with both concerts for piano. Francois goes beyond the score. He seeks the nucleus of the work .
The early death of Francois in 1971 left the musical world in a certain way orphan. Listen to Francois and convince by yourself.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous Recording 8 May 1999
By PBotti@worldnet.att.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I have listened to many different versions of the two Ravel Concertos. I had bought in France in the early 70s the LP with Cluytens and S. François. I have been looking for its reedition on CD for years. Finally it was remastered and came back. Beautiful, suave, truly French. I have conducted both concertos and I have performed them as a soloist. I can say that the performance in this recording is the best ever heard. A truly remarquable monument. This is a historical recording.
Patrick Botti, Artistic Director/Conductor New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The best Ravel on the market 12 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I guess Michelangeli and Argerich are the most common recommendations for Ravel's G Major piano concerto. Well, Samson Francois blows both of them away. The excitement and style he conjures up make me feel as if I were hearing this music for the first time. This is still true even though I've listened to this CD almost constantly for the past few weeks.
Francois is no less gripping in the Left Hand Concerto and in Gaspard, although memories of Richter in "Le Gibet" still refuse to leave me.
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