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Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Composer: Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001G54
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,903 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

ravel: gaspard de la nuitfreddie ravel | format: audio cd5.0 out of 5 stars see all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Format: Audio CD
Pogorelich's Gaspard de la Nuit is quite definitely the best recording of this work I've ever heard, surpassing Gavrilov (just), Argerich, Ashkenazy, Thibaudet, Perlemuter, and all others: beautifully liquid in Ondine, sparse and desolate in Le Gibet and spine-tingling in Scarbo. His Prokofiev is almost as successful, up there with Kissin's RCA recording. These works are perfect vehicles for Pogorelich's astounding technique and fiery temperament.
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Format: Audio CD
I regularly give this CD as a gift to both audio and piano novices and experts -- I almost use it as a calling card. I think it's the finest piano performance ever recorded, and a very honest audio representation of a Hamburg Steinway in a recital hall. Unconditionally recommended!
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Format: Audio CD
I've never come across more powerful and frighteningly intense account of Gaspard de la Nuit yet. Prokofiev's 6th is totally scintillating, although Richter wasn't impressed very much by this recording.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am convinced that Pogerelich was a genius of the piano. This disc shows this clearly with terrific control of technique and nuanced interpretations. A must for lovers of fine piano playing.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of Pogorelich's best recordings 21 Feb. 2008
By M. R. Simpson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Back in the 1980s, I remember asking a composer friend what he thought of Ivo Pogorelich. As he was a stickler for musicians observing composers' markings, I expected him to dislike Pogorelich, whose interpretations were very controversial at the time; however, to my surprise he replied that he was "undecided." Apparently, he had liked some of the recordings, but others he wasn't so crazy about. Years later, I tend to feel the same way, except that I have stronger feelings both ways--some of his recordings I really love, and would take with me to my desert island, while others I have definitely found to be more challenging.

My chief complaint against Pogorelich is that he has a tendency to drag the music. I once attended a performance of Chopin's 24 Preludes at Carnegie Hall, in which he played some of the pieces so slowly, and with so many pauses, that at times the music seemed to lose all forward momentum. I mention this because listeners should be warned that he does have a tendency to do this on some of his recordings as well (although not on this one here). For example, his Brahms Intermezzi are very slow, not misguided--he definitely understands the ruminative nature of the music, but due to his slow pacing, some may feel that he compromises or retards the overall musical structure. (His Mozart Sonatas are even worse, as he approaches them in the same "romantic" manner as his Brahms.) Yet, at other times, as with his recording of Schumann's dazzling Toccata, he is absolutely incredible--and I mean, phenomenal. In fact, to my mind he is the only pianist to have ever bettered the legendary early Horowitz recording of the Toccata (previously released on the EMI label).

In addition to his Schumann, I have also enjoyed his Scarlatti, Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven, and only wish that he would record more Scriabin, for which he has a special affinity. Yet, of all his recordings, it is to this recording of Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit that I have returned most over the years, and even after repeated listening, I am still utterly transfixed by it. Simply put, it contains some of the most riveting and imaginative piano playing that I have ever heard--and my piano listening goes as far back as De Pachmann in the early 1900s (albeit on recordings, of course).

One can only wonder what Ravel would have thought of it, having been--as a teacher--quite a strict taskmaster. Certainly, Ravel's students, or friends, such as Robert Casadesus and Jacques Fevrier, play the piece more formally, and with a more authentic French piano touch and sensibility. Indeed, when this recording first appeared, I remember my girlfriend at the time--a graduate of the Curtis Institute--saying that she found the French pianist Jean-Phillipe Collard to be "more sensitive" in this piece, and that is probably true. I also recall that in the first Penquin Guide review, the reviewer didn't even award Pogorelich a full three stars. He thought that there was something narcissistic about the playing--finding his attention drawn more to the extraordinary quality of pianism rather than to Ravel's music. Yet today, many years later, this recording--along with the very fine Prokofiev 6th sonata that accompanies it--has acquired an enduring status, and is considered by many to be a true classic.

While there may indeed be touches of narcissism in some of Pogorelich's other recordings--I must respectfully disagree with the Penquin Guide and say that I do not find that to be the case here. Admittedly, Pogorelich may employ a greater expressive range than some very notable Ravelians, such as Casadesus, Monique Haas, Francois, or Collard, but I would argue that the wildly imaginative nature of Ravel's writing more than justifies him doing so. And it is astonishing just how well he is able to realize--both technically and musically--the fantastical sound world of Ravel's nightmarish visions. Indeed there are times when I feel that he has surpassed everyone in this piece, with the possible exception of Haas and Fevrier, both of whom I adore in this music. (I should mention that Fevrier didn't record Gaspard until late in his career in 1971, when he was 71 years old, and his technique wasn't quite what it had been in earlier years. Nevertheless, Fevrier had a special authority in this music, having known the composer and worked with him on his Concerto for the Left Hand, and I would strongly urge students of Ravel to seek out these wonderful and uniquely instructive recordings: Ravel-L'Oeuvre Pour Piano Volume 1-Jacques Fevrier and Ravel-L'Oeuvre Pour Piano Volume 2. You can also listen to Fevrier's Ravel on You Tube.)

If you are searching for a more recent digital performance, either to compare the Pogorelich to, or perhaps to buy as part of a complete set of Ravel's piano music (instead of the Prokofiev coupling), I would also strongly recommend either Jean-Efflam Bavouzet or Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Both pianists are excellent in this music, although I am undecided about which one I like better. However, I definitely prefer Thibaudet's performance of Ravel's Prelude. Bavouzet's rendition is beautifully played, but too broadly concieved, while Thibaudet is the only pianist I've heard other than Samson Francois to recognize the subtle jazz-like inflections within the piece (although I have never heard anyone play the Prelude more beautifully than Francois.) In addition, over the years I have also treasured a single disc of Ravel's piano music played by Mikail Rudy on the EMI label, which unlike the Pogorelich recording, was awarded a Rosette by the Penguin guide.

Then again, if you don't mind decent analogue sound, you might do well to consider Jean-Phillipe Collard: not only is his set superbly well played, and thoroughly idiomatic, but it is also now attractively available at a discount price. Moreover, it is interesting to note that in one particular movement of Miroirs--I'm sorry but I've forgotten which one it is--Collard's timing is exactly the same as the composer's recording, that is, to the very second.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not add that the great Italian pianist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, was also remarkable in Gaspard. My only problem is that he was never afforded a particularly good sound quality, despite having recorded the work, I believe, three times (the "Vatican" recording being the worst of the lot). And in such richly textured music, poor sound quality is a definite negative, despite the amazing stature of Michelangeli's playing.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really special disc 27 Dec. 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Ivo Pogorelich is a controversial pianist, but I cannot imagine anyone being (overall) dissatisfied with the performances on this disc. The approach Prokofiev's sixth sonata is certainly one of extremes, using the whole range of colors and shades, but it works superbly. The allegretto movement is turned into a kind of scherzo, but a strangely subdued one, and the Valzer lentissimo is almost otherworldly in its dreamlike textures and colors, conveying an impression of a magical fire burning behind a calmly multi-colored, solemn glass painting. The reading of Gaspard de la nuit might not be a first choice - for that it is far too idiosyncratic - yet I wouldn't want to be without it. Ondine is calmly delicate but with a fiery intensity belying its surface sadness. Le gibet is quietly menacing, almost disconcertingly crystalline and ice-coated - it is probably the most intensely chilling version on disc, a performance bathed in shimmering, bleak, frozen half-lights. In comparison, Scarbo sounds fiercely but ephemereally magnificent and tumultuous, nervous and disquieting. The sound is rather on the cold side as well, but even if memories of, say, Ashkenazy are never eclipsed I wouldn't want to be without this reading. A really special disc, then, strongly recommended - especially to those who think they already know these works.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Pogorelich 2 Mar. 2009
By David Thierry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Out of the over 100 available recordings of Ravel's Gaspard de le nuit this must be one of the finest. If this was Ravel's idea of a bad dream I'll take it. It easily ranks with the most beautiful music I know. I have the estimable Vlado Perlmuter's complete recording of Ravel's music, recorded when the pianist was in his eighties and it's a marvel. Martha Argerich's recording is still a wonder. Haven't heard Ashkenazy or any others. Pogorelich may be an artist with the courage to do what he feels is right despite composer's markings and that makes for an interesting listen. I know both the Ravel and the Prokofiev rather well and haven't noticed anything amiss. Pogorelich plays with both great power and amazing delicacy. If you don't know the Prokofiev sonatas, explore them and you will be amply rewarded. I love this recording. Very highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ivo in his element. 1 Mar. 2010
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This original release has now been re-issued under DG's 'Original' series, with the Chopin No. 2 Concerto added.
I for one would want to stick to this 'original' version, since both works contained in this CD represent Ivo Pogorelich's finest performances.
The Ravel piece has been Pogorelich's calling card both in the recording studio and in concert halls. His tremendously powerful touching, varied tone colouring and immaculate sense of rhythm in this set of three pieces marked this performance as 'the' benchmark of this masterpiece of Ravel.
The other part of this album is devoted to Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6. Again, here Pogorelich's pianism serves the work like hand in glove. The listener is left to absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this work is intuitively in the musical soul of Pogorelich. There is no trace of any ponderosity, any drag in tempi, or any waywardness of expression. The rhythms and dynamics are utterly well-paced and well-placed, and there are much beauty of touching, showcasing Pogorelich's greatest pianistic strength.
This may not be true for his Chopin, Brahms, or Moussorgsky, as one reviewer here so aptly pointed out. And it is also true that Pogorelich's interpretive problems with either Chopin or Brahms did not surface in this recording of Ravel and Prokofiev one bit.
These are absolutely classics, and should not be missed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the man (sorry! person) for this music 16 Feb. 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Having recently been astounded by Pollini's recording of Boulez's second Piano Sonata and the Three Pieces from Petrushka, I wasn't prepared to be blown away again quite so quickly. I don't really know Pogorelich's work -- I have heard that at the beginning of his career he was "controversial" -- but all I can say is that he can play this stuff. Argerich and Lortie have fine recordings of Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit," but Pogorelich brings something special to the table. In "Le Gibet" he somehow creates the impression of the sounds coming from three distinct distances -- near, middle distance, and far away -- and he does this without compromising the ongoing development of the whole piece. The bell sounds, played unbelievably softly, are way in the distance, and the effect is haunting. Everything too is presented with utmost clarity, and the even-ness of the fingering is miraculous. Like Pollini, he can totally control his instrument, and no matter what else he does or doesn't do, he has made an outstanding recording here. The Prokofiev Sixth Sonata is an excellent pairing for "Gaspard" -- the first movement seems like an extension of "Scarbo" (the third and final section of "Gaspard"), and Pogorelich brings to it a similar sense of energy and threat. Unlike "Scarbo" however, it has a quiet middle section that provides some variety from the energy. The second and fourth movements come across as scherzos (the fourth with two different "trios"), and Pogorelich presents them with humor and (in the fourth movement) with charm, which is amazing, given the technical difficulties of the fast passagework. The movement I'm least sure what to make of is the third -- a slow waltz time signature -- is it a joke too? No complaints about the lucid playing, though. The sound is very fine (1984 digital) -- as is Lortie's slightly later Chandos sound). For all the percussiveness and shenanigans, the piano always sounds beautiful. This should be in every piano-lover's collection.
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