Ravel: Complete Works for Solo Piano

"The Canadian pianist, Louis Lortie, gives an impressive account… throughout the whole set his playing is elegant, virile and sensitive… This is a distinguished and stimulating recital." --The Penguin Complete Guide

"The technical brilliance and absolute assurance of the playing excludes neither passion nor the cooler poetry Ravel admired." --Sunday Times ‘Record of the Week’

"Louis Lortie is on superlative form in his recital…" --Gramophone ‘Critic’s Choice’

Such was Ravel’s genius that he could achieve technical perfection even in his most violently charged moments. Debussy once described him as having ‘the most refined ear that ever existed’. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his piano works.

The Pavane pour une infante défunte is an exquisite exercise in nostalgia, reflecting in is grave formality and sweetness another time and place, namely sixteenth-century Spain.

Le Tombeau de Couperin is a six part Suite, the last of Ravel’s piano compositions, and by his own admission, more a tribute to the entire spirit of French eighteenth-century music than to Couperin in particular. More sombrely, each piece is dedicated to a friend killed in the First World War.

The Valses nobles et sentimentales are a startlingly modern reflection of Schubert’s Waltzes of the same title. A scandal ensued when the works were first played, for people were not used to Ravel’s novel astringency and toughness of expression.

La Valse takes the waltz to another dimension. Sketched before the 1914-18 war it was first conceived as Wien, a symphonic poem, an apotheosis of the Viennese waltz’ and an ‘impression of fantastic, fatal whirling’. Powerful and symbolic, La Valse signalled the end of an era of civilised values.

Gaspard de la nuit is arguably the greatest piano work of the twentieth century and its admirers included Messiaen, who saw its lavish pianistic resource and unfaltering precision as a supreme instance of Ravel’s genius.

The classically based Sonatine is the epitome of distilled grace and Gallic understatement, energised by startling passages of passion and ebullience. Understandably, many scholars consider the work one of Ravel’s subtlest and most finely wrought.

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