Monique Haas

Monique Haas Plays Debussy & Ravel [Box Set]

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Monique Haas Plays Debussy & Ravel [Box Set] Review

by James Leonard

French pianist Monique Haas recorded the piano works of Debussy and Ravel twice, once in the late '50s and early '60s for Deutsche Grammophon and again in the late '60s and early '70s for Erato. The later recordings are released here in this six disc set from Warner Classics. As on the earlier set, Haas' performances are elegantly stylish, technically impeccable, consummately musical, and quintessentially French. Pick any piece by either composer at random, and you'll see. Try her bright but sensual Suite Bergamasque with its ravishing Clair de lune or her brilliant and visionary Études with their astounding concluding Pour les accords. Or try her recklessly virtuosic Gaspard de la nuit with its frightening Scarbo or her sweetly swaying Valses nobles et sentimentales with its heartrending Épilogue. There are only two meaningful differences between Haas' recordings: in the earlier performance, she is more passionate and impetuous while in the later performances she is more measured and thoughtful. In the DG recordings, the sound is mostly monaural though still clean and clear, while in the Erato recordings, the sound is entirely stereo and thus warmer and rounder, though no less clean and clear. Anyone interested in the composers, the repertoire, or this French pianist of the twentieth century should hear Haas' Debussy and Ravel -- in either or both recordings.

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