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Ravel: L'Oeuvre Pour Piano Seul / Jean-Yves Thibaudet


Release Date: 09/15/1992 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 433515   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Elegance, precision, and polish were attributes Ravel cultivated in himself and admired in others, and one can’t help feeling the composer would have been very impressed with these performances.

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RAVEL Gaspard de la nuit. Miroirs. Le Tombeau de Couperin. Valses nobles et sentimentales. Jeux d’eau. Sonatine. Menuet antique. Sérénade grotesque. Pavane pour une infante défunte. Menuet sur le nom de Haydn. Prélude. À la Read more manière de Borodine. À la manière de Chabrier Jean-Yves Thibaudet (pn) DECCA 433 515-2 (2 CDs: 130:18)


One afternoon and early evening about 10 years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Jean-Yves Thibaudet play through the complete solo piano music of Maurice Ravel. For one or two of the lesser works he used sheet music, but the big pieces like Gaspard de la nuit and Miroirs were executed from memory. While his stamina was certainly extraordinary, it was his control that truly amazed me; I don’t think there was one finger slip all day, nor one chord or scale passage imperfectly weighted. Watching Thibaudet play the hard stuff—”Scarbo” or the Toccata from Le Tombeau de Couperin —was like watching a master illusionist: I saw it with my own eyes but I don’t know how it was done. What I can say is, not one muscle in his body was employed for anything other than making music; there was no rocking on the piano stool, no leaning over the keyboard to peer at his fingers, no raising of the arms for visual effect. Every move was supremely calibrated. I am a reasonably fluent pianist in my field, but this guy made me realize my technique is deficient in just about every respect!


I already owned this set at the time; it was recorded some nine years prior, in 1991. On disc Thibaudet has slightly more nervous energy than he had in concert. His is pianism of the French school: precise, clear, and scintillating. He is tender but never schmaltzy or sentimental, even in the sentimental waltzes. I recall that Thibaudet’s first record, the one that cemented his reputation, was a Ravel selection (on the Denon label), and there is no doubt that Ravel is his composer. He not only knows how to play this music, he knows what the point of it is. How febrile are his moths in “Noctuelles”; how pointedly he creates an impression of a hazy summer afternoon on the water in “Une Barque sur l’océan,” without ever sacrificing clarity. Listen to the brio with which he launches into the Valses nobles et sentimentales, or stamps out the opening of the Menuet antique : There is real power here, but never an ugly sound. Sample the subdued brilliance of the Prélude from Le Tombeau de Couperin , a much more difficult piece than it sounds. The recording is light in the bass, but that seems to suit Thibaudet’s approach.


Of course, many pianists have uncovered different aspects of this music. Pogorelich finds more mystery in “Le Gibet” from Gaspard , and his Valses nobles et sentimentales are truly (and wonderfully) willful, more like a nostalgic recollection of the piece. I also admire the complete set on Harmonia Mundi by Alexandre Tharaud, another incredible technician and no-nonsense Ravelian. No one, however, quite equals Thibaudet’s aristocratic élan . Elegance, precision, and polish were attributes Ravel cultivated in himself and admired in others, and one can’t help feeling the composer would have been very impressed with these performances.


A CD does not remain available for 18 years for no reason. Without doubt, this set deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sérénade grotesque by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1893; France 
2.
Menuet antique by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895; France 
3.
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
4.
Jeux d'eau by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901; France 
5.
Sonatine for Piano by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
6.
Miroirs by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
7.
Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; France 
8.
Valses nobles et sentimentales by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; France 
9.
Prélude for Piano in A minor by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
10.
A la manière de Borodine by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
11.
A la manière de Chabrier by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
12.
Le tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1917; orch. 191; France 

Sound Samples

Sérénade grotesque
Menuet antique
Pavane pour une infante défunte
Jeux d'eau
Sonatine - for Piano: 1. Modéré
Sonatine - for Piano: 2. Mouvement de menuet
Sonatine - for Piano: 3. Animé
Miroirs: 1. Noctuelles
Miroirs: 2. Oiseaux tristes
Miroirs: 3. Une barque sur l'océan
Miroirs: 4. Alborada del gracioso
Miroirs: 5. La vallée des cloches
Gaspard de la nuit: Ondine
Gaspard de la nuit: Le gibet
Gaspard de la nuit: Scarbo
Menuet sur le nom de Haydn
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 1. Modéré - très franc
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 2. Assez lent - avec une expression intense
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 3. Modéré
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 4. Assez animé
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 5. Presque lent - dans un sentiment intime
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 6. Assez vif
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 7. Moins vif
Valses nobles et sentimentales - for Piano: 8. Epilogue (Lent)
Prélude
A la manière de. . . Borodine
A la manière de. . . Chabrier
Le tombeau de Couperin - Piano version: 1. Prélude
Le tombeau de Couperin - Piano version: 2. Fugue
Le tombeau de Couperin - Piano version: 3. Forlane
Le tombeau de Couperin - Piano version: 4. Rigaudon
Le tombeau de Couperin - Piano version: 5. Menuet
Le tombeau de Couperin - Piano version: 6. Toccata

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