Pierre-Laurent Aimard / Pierre Boulez / Cleveland Orchestra

Ravel: The Piano Concertos; Miroirs

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Two musicians frequently recognized for their passion for hard-edged modern and contemporary music take on the music of modern pioneer Maurice Ravel. The Ravel piano concertos come off as brilliant and sparkling in the hands of Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Pierre Boulez, along with the Cleveland Orchestra. Boulez and the orchestra make Ravel's orchestral writing sparkle in the Concerto for Left Hand, and in the Concerto in G they highlight not only the sassy jazz references, but also the references to Stravinsky, and do it without drawing attention away from the rest of the music. The way Boulez and the orchestra work with Aimard is very complementary, not at all adversarial. For his part, Aimard is also both technically and musically superb. He gives the solo part a depth and range of expression not often heard, varying his articulation to suit the music. The result is two concertos that are worth hearing more than a couple of times, and in the case of the Concerto in G, you may wish it didn't end so soon. The sound is very good with a nice balance between the orchestra and the piano, and hardly any aural indication that it is a live recording. A studio performance of Miroirs fills out the disc, where Aimard again lends an impressive combination of touch and expression to round out the character of each movement. Aimard and Boulez seem to have found the point in Ravel's music at which romanticism meets modernism, and they make it something not to be missed.

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