Steven Osborne / Ludovic Morlot / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Ravel: Piano Concertos; Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain

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Steven Osborne's 2017 album of piano concertos by Maurice Ravel and Manuel de Falla with Ludovic Morlot and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is his first concerto recording since his 2013 release, which offered the complete music for piano and orchestra by Igor Stravinsky. Osborne had recorded all of Ravel's solo piano works for his only Hyperion release in 2011, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually give luminous performances of the Piano Concerto in G major and the Piano Concerto for the left hand in D major, to complete Ravel's keyboard catalog. To complement those effervescent works, Osborne performs Falla's Noches en los jardines de España, a piano concerto in all but name and one of the most appropriate modern work to place between Ravel's concertos, both for its exotic hues and evocative themes. Ravel's bright, jazz-inspired concertos emphasize keyboard virtuosity and dazzling orchestral effects, though they are somewhat abstract in character, whereas Falla's dark and passionate Andalusian-flavored music contrasts well with Ravel's Gallic wit, and his colorful Spanish scene painting has rich textures that are almost palpable. Hyperion's sound is well balanced between the piano and the orchestra, so Osborne's incisive playing is clearly audible against the BBCSSO's vibrant accompaniment.

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