In the wake of the centenary of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, recordings of the orchestral and two-piano versions have increased dramatically, making it one of the most frequently recorded works since the turn of the millennium. As a consequence of its renewed popularity, even the solo piano transcription of Le Sacre du printemps by Vladimir Leyetchkiss has representation in this Naxos recording by Ralph van Raat, paired with Lucien Garban's solo piano version of Claude Debussy's La Mer. These works have been enormously influential in their orchestral forms, and while the two-piano and solo transcriptions have not in themselves had the same impact, they give pianists opportunities to re-create the coloristic effects and textures of the originals through the medium of the keyboard. Indeed, a major challenge lies in making the piano's own wide array of tone colors correspond to similar orchestral sonorities, almost exclusively through touch and articulation. The shifting colors of Le Sacre are brilliantly suggested by van Raat's subtle differentiation of melodic lines, percussive attacks, and judicious use of the pedal, which gives the music the heightened illusion of an orchestral palette. Even more to the point, van Raat has to manage these effects singlehandedly, without the benefit of a partner to share in the workload. Yet van Raat's virtuosity and physical endurance carry him through his gripping performances, and these solo piano transcriptions of both Le Sacre du printemps and La Mer are as convincing as the two-piano versions.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
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