Ravel was a pianist, and the piano was central to his art. The piano was the instrument through which he discovered and expressed innovations in style, technique and expression. He composed at the piano, and, unsurprisingly, many of his orchestral works (Bolero being the exception) appeared in piano versions. Although his entire output is modest – around 60 works, he transcribed more than half of these works for 2 pianos, or piano duet.
Apart from the well known works, this 2cd set contains some little known pieces – Entre cloches of 1897 was only published in 1975, and was originally appended to the Haberna, now better known as the 3rd movement of Rapsodie espagnole. Frontispice for 2 pianos, 5 hands was written in 1918.
Ravel’s mother had died in 1917, and he was deeply attached to her. Her loss resulted in 3 years of musical silence, with the exception of Frontispice. It is a short and very experimental work published with a collection of philospohical war poetry by the Italian Ricciotto Canudo. It is a curiously evocative work, almost surreal.
“These performances from Denmark are all affectionate and notably intelligent and they are powerfully yet pleasingly recorded. The culmination of this set is a fine account of that terrifying masterpiece La valse. Recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, October 1988