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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the most exciting performances of the concertos, 7 Aug 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ravel: Piano Concertos/Pavane/Jeux d'eau/La Valse (Audio CD)
This disc, recorded in 1979 and 1980, and then remastered in 1986 is especially notable for the two concertos. Those received rapturous reviews when the recordings first appeared and it has been in my collection ever since in various editions, both LP and CD. I also owned the two record set of the solo piano music but, although well played, this set was sonically inferior having been cut at a very low level and having somewhat wooden piano sound. Regrettably on a musical basis, it did not stay in my collection for those reasons.

The current remastering of the concertos brings the two concertos even more vividly to life and the generally faster tempi and sharply defined rhythms in both the piano and orchestral parts are simply thrilling. This is not the same sort of performance as the famous one by Michelangeli for instance and comparisons with that are not applicable for that is superb too, but from a different perspective.

The three solo piano pieces are as musically satisfying as before and have also benefited from the remastering but it is quite clear that the concertos are a fundamentally far better recorded product. Consequently the concertos are the only items that are played on this disc as there are so many other versions of the solo piano pieces that can be found in my collection, all as satisfying musically and in significantly better sound.

It seems to me that the main reason for buying this disc is for the concertos and so the remaining items are not a major factor in deciding whether or not to buy this disc. The concertos are of such quality that the consideration of additional items and their quality is not of over-riding importance. I note that, for some reviewers, the solo items are considered as of a similar quality so I have to stress that my own response is therefore a personal one coloured by knowing that there are other options options that seem markedly preferable.

I would suggest that the concerto performances and recording on this disc still deserve to be considered as strong possibilities for purchase regardless of the remaining items. They are among the very best ever recorded and have the advantage of being paired together on the same disc - not all Ravel concerto performances are so coupled. For those who warm to the remainder of the disc more than myself, the attractions are simply amplified.
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4.0 out of 5 stars nice performances. Could the sound be better?, 13 Feb 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ravel: Piano Concertos/Pavane/Jeux d'eau/La Valse (Audio CD)
These late analogue recordings (1979) exhibit good balance between piano and orchestra, but both could be a bit more up-front in the aural picture. That's my only reservation, though. Collard and Maazel are very much in synch here, and the orchestral textures are very well realized. In particular, the slow movement of the G-major has the lovely dialogue between piano and cor anglais beautifully balanced and eloquently played, and Collard's grave and steady solo opening (3+ minutes) of the movement establishes the feeling perfectly. The concluding presto movement is dashed off with great spirit. The Concerto for Left Hand is a darker work, and Maazel and Collard establish perfectly the dark mood and the piano's sombre but firm resistance to it, both in the first section and later, when the similar dynamic is set up. Both concertos belong to 1931-32, but it is the left-hand one that seems to catch reminiscences of World War 1 (it was written for Paul Wittgenstein, who lost an arm in the conflict) and perhaps anticipations of the conflict to come. There are late cadenza-like passages that call for real virtuosity for a pianist playing with one hand, and Collard is up to the challenge.

The "fillers" are piano solo accounts of Ravel's "Pavane" and "Jeux D'eau," and a two-piano version of "La Valse," with Michel Beroff at the second piano. The solos are played with unostentatious beauty, but in "La Valse," I had the sense, at least via my headphones, that one piano was more upfront than the other. The playing was fine, though. To sum up -- there are many fine recordings of this music. I'm partial to Lortie, with better sound, on Chandos, but I've read that Thibaudet is also worth hearing. This is worth hearing too, though.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A class of its own!, 11 Dec 2008
By 
Scriabinmahler (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ravel: Piano Concertos/Pavane/Jeux d'eau/La Valse (Audio CD)
J.P.Collard's rendition of Ravel's Piano Concerto can stand test of time alongside Michelangeli's acclaimed account (Rachmaninov & Ravel - Piano Concertos). His interpretation is straightforward and self-effacing, letting the music speak for itself, yet the power and incomparable elan in his playing lift the music on a different plane. The slow movement is most beautifully played in just right tempo, without overcooked rubatos and with exquisite tonal subtlety. The orchestra matches the pianist's prowess and intensity, providing full grandeur and boisterousness. Concerto for the left hand is equally outstanding and beats most of his rivals.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Performance, 10 Jun 2010
By 
The Man from the Ministry (Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ravel: Piano Concertos/Pavane/Jeux d'eau/La Valse (Audio CD)
The Collard-Maazel recording of the Ravel piano concertos stands, in my opinion, head and shoulders above any other performance. Collard has total mastery of the music, making every note count, whilst Maazel does a superb job in making sure that the orchestra doesn't lag behind. The result is a triumph.

With a clear, well-balanced sound, this is a perfect recording in every way. Curiously, after being released in vinyl in the early 1980s, it didn't appear on CD for a long time; perhaps because Collard isn't a household name compared to some of his peers. I'm glad that this has now been rectified and with some bonus solo piano pieces, this is a must for all Ravelians.
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