Harmonia Mundi's Ravel: Jeux de Miroirs plays off the idea that two of Maurice Ravel's major piano pieces and their orchestral arrangements are essentially reflections of each other. This is spelled out in the program's palindrome-like structure, where both versions of the Alborada del gracioso (taken from the five-movement suite for piano, Miroirs), and the piano and orchestral versions of Le Tombeau de Couperin, are placed on either side of the Piano Concerto in G major. While this is a clever way to bring pianist Javier Perianes and conductor Josep Pons and the Orchestre de Paris together in a thought-provoking program, there are limitations to the comparisons because these works were intended to exist as separate entities. Ravel's orchestrations, not only of his own piano music but of other composers, such as Schumann, Chabrier, Mussorgsky, and Debussy, are fascinating to explore, though side-by-side comparisons with the piano originals may strike some listeners as repetitive, or a musical exercise best left to experts. Furthermore, the album doesn't include Ravel's other famous arrangements, including Pavane pour une infante défunte, Une barque sur l'océan (also adapted from Miroirs), Valses nobles et sentimentales, and other pieces, which would have provided a clearer impression of his methods. That said, the performances are solid, so choosing a preferred version is not required, and the Piano Concerto in G major allows Perianes and Pons to interact and demonstrate Ravel's ability to weave the piano and orchestral parts into a subtle, shimmering whole.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Le Tombeau de Couperin, 6 Pièces pour piano deux mains, M. 68|
|Concerto en Sol majeur, Pour piano et orchestre, M. 83|
|Le Tombeau de Couperin, Suite d'orchestre, M. 68a|