- Conductor: n/a
- Composer: Ravel
- Audio CD (1 Jun. 2009)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Hyperion
- ASIN: B0025YZ82Y
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 262,449 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Ravel: Songs CD
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The award-winning partnership of Gerald Finley and Julius Drake continue their musical explorations with this beautiful and thought-provoking disc. Gerald Finley's lustrous tones, extraordinary gift for characterization, and direct, unaffected utterance make him an ideal and revelatory performer of Ravel's songs. These works, somewhat under-appreciated in the composer's oeuvre, demonstrate the endless variety and vast emotional scope of Ravel's musical sphere. Charming folk-song settings contrast with the almost surrealist world of Histoires naturelles, which caused outrage at its first performance. Yet this cycle contains some of Ravel's most dreamily beautiful music: the still, crystalline 'music of silence' created in Le martin-pêcheur. In the words of Roger Nichols, who provides the fascinating booklet notes, 'From the sepulchral gloom of Un grand sommeil noir to the final exclamation 'Je bois/ A la joie'..., Ravel's songs embrace a whole world'.
'In close collusion with the ever-sentient Julius Drake, Gerald Finley gives one of the most beautifully sung and intensely experienced performances on disc of Schumann's cycle of rapture, disillusion and tender regret... a glorious Schumann recital' --(Gramophone)
'Gerald Finley's burnished baritone is one of the most beautiful voices to have recorded the cycle... a glorious Schumann recital from a singer and pianist in true, symbiotic partnership' --(The Daily Telegraph)
'[Finley] is in his prime. He brings eloquence to the text and maturity to his interpretations... an outstanding disc' --(The Sunday Times)
Top Customer Reviews
I would recommend any purchaser of this disc who is not already an expert in Ravel's songs to study the liner note thoughtfully, however much effort that takes. It's like ploughing through treacle as the author communes with himself about arcane musicological details to the exclusion of the rest of us, but it is genuinely illuminating in tracing the sequence and order of the composition of these songs. Ravel's eclectic taste went this way and that way, and if we want to appreciate his genius we have to follow him as best we can. Compared with Faure or Brahms, to say nothing of Schubert, Ravel did not turn out all that many songs. However their variety is astonishing.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I would recommend any purchaser of this disc who is not already an expert in Ravel's songs to study the liner note thoughtfully, however much effort that takes. It's like ploughing through treacle as the author communes with himself about arcane musicological details to the exclusion of the rest of us, but it is genuinely illuminating in tracing the sequence and order of the composition of these songs. Ravel's eclectic taste went this way and that way, and if we want to appreciate his genius we have to follow him as best we can. Compared with Faure or Brahms, to say nothing of Schubert, Ravel did not turn out all that many songs. However their variety is astonishing. One number strikes me as verging on ridiculous, namely `Ye banks and braes', sung in the authentic Burnsian English to the original sentimental tune composed by whoever composed it and with a token amount of French fannying about by Ravel himself. At the other end of the scale is the setting of Verlaine's Un grand sommeil noir, which is about exactly what you think it is about, and which recalls nothing less than Schubert's Der Doeppelgaenger.
That particular song benefits from a voice like Gerald Finley's, and so does the powerful penultimate Kaddisch, adroitly sequenced just before the lighter-weight number that concludes this fascinating series of 26 songs. You can read about both Finley and his piano partner Julius Drake in the liner, and it is no surprise to learn that they are experienced in working together. I had become familiar with Finley from Gardiner's great `Pilgrimage' series of Bach cantatas done in the year 2000, and what I had become familiar with was a superb resonant baritone and an equally superb technique and discipline. Finley seems just as at home in early 20th century French music as in the German school of two centuries earlier, and I am no more inclined to look for faults in his work here than there. It is all `French' enough for my taste, he seems to me to be alert to the kaleidoscopic variety of moods that these songs express, his voice suits all of them well enough although probably the more powerful ones best, and his piano colleague is with him all the way.
We demand a high standard in recorded quality these days, we demand it rightly, and we are given it here, or at least to my own satisfaction. There is not all that much music by Ravel - someone has totted up about 16 hours of it altogether. So far as I am concerned that gives me no excuse for staying ignorant of any of it, this particular recital has advanced my own insight, and I recommend the experience to as many as I can.