Fabulous technique, complete command, and a winning way with a phrase -- what's not to like in Artur Pizarro's 2007 recording called The Complete Piano Works of Maurice Ravel? No matter how difficult the piano writing gets -- and at its most extreme in "Scarbo" from Gaspard de la Nuit, it sounds like Liszt on methampthemines -- Pizarro handles it all with aplomb and panache. And no matter how atmospheric the piano writing gets -- and at its most extreme in "Noctuelles" from Miroirs, it sounds like Chopin on opium -- Pizarro does it all with passion and conviction. Captured in supernaturally realistic super audio digital surround sound by Linn Records, Pizarro's performances are right in the room with the listener -- which, in the case of the closing La Valse, could come dangerously close to audio disaster on lesser sound systems. Some might miss the wit and poetry of Ravel's piano music, but none would disagree that Pizarro's performances have the energy of Ravel's piano music. Others might dismiss his playing as extraordinarily virtuosic but ultimately narcissistic, but none would dispute that Pizarro's performances have the intensity of Ravel's piano music. Whether in the end the performances are likeable or not is up to the individual.
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