Romain Descharmes

Ravel: Piano Works

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It is the contention of pianist Romain Descharmes that Ravel was no hazy Impressionist creating gaudy and gauzy music, but a clear-eyed Modernist creating hard-edged, sharp-cornered works, and Descharmes makes his case as persuasively as possible. With his brilliant technique, crisp attack, and complete control, Descharmes illuminates every aspect of the four works here: Valses nobles et sentimentales, Gaspard de la nuit, Sonatine, and La valse. Not only does Descharmes miss nary a note, but his performances let every note sound in ideal balance with the whole. The results are undeniably exciting; Scarbo from Gaspard is flat-out thrilling, while La valse comes close to inciting a riot in its final bars. Listeners who fondly recall the more modulated and subtle recordings of Walter Gieseking and Robert Casadesus may not appreciate Descharmes' take on Ravel, but even they would be hard pressed not to enjoy his blistering account of La valse. Played on an extra-bright Kawai piano and recorded in extremely vivid super audio, the sound is stunningly immediate.

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