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Ravel: The Piano Concertos / Miroirs

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Audio CD, October 5, 2010
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Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Piano Concerto For The Left Hand In D - Lento - Andante - Allegro - Tempo 1The Cleveland Orchestra18:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Piano Concerto In G - 1. AllegramenteThe Cleveland Orchestra 8:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Piano Concerto In G - 2. Adagio AssaiThe Cleveland Orchestra 9:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Piano Concerto In G - 3. PrestoThe Cleveland Orchestra 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Ravel: Miroirs - 1. NoctuellesPierre-Laurent Aimard 4:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Miroirs - 2. Oiseaux TristesPierre-Laurent Aimard 4:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Miroirs - 3. Une Barque Sur L'océanPierre-Laurent Aimard 7:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Miroirs - 4. Alborada Del GraciosoPierre-Laurent Aimard 6:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Miroirs - 5. La Vallée Des ClochesPierre-Laurent Aimard 6:09$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Product Details

  • Performer: Pierre-Laurent Aimard
  • Orchestra: The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Conductor: Pierre Boulez
  • Composer: Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (October 5, 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B003JA5MME
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,415 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
In 1999 Boulez released a coupling of the two Ravel piano concertos with Krystian Zimerman. The filler then was a set of the Valses nobles et sentimentales; here it is a set of Miroirs. Overlaps are numerous in the classical catalog, of course, so I suppose this one represents a desire to promote Aimard, who has had an increasing presence on the yellow label. Everything is in order, with a world-class orchestra, a fine-sounding piano, and excellent recorded sound. The soloist and conductor are like-minded in their cool, detailed approach that shortchanges emotional gestures, but in the bargain are they short on wit and personal involvement, too?

I suppose the answer depends on your expectations and not a little bit on your culture. The French appreciate clarity, detail, and refinement as hallmarks of musical style in almost everything, up to and including Mahler. The Left-Hand Cto. is full of strange sonorities and odd juxtapositions: it moves from the stygian gloom of the opening to a Bolero-like hypnotic march with impertinent trombone slides and jazzy quips along the way. I find Aimard a little too stiff and unwilling to exploit the strangeness of the score, but it's a matter of taste. His left hand is prodigiously adept, and Boulez provides a powerful, alert accompaniment. At 85 he seems preternaturally animated and youthful.

The G major has been done with more wit, panache, and attack than what we get from this CD. Aimard plays this jazz piece straight, and Boulez goes along, but in terms of nuance and musical detail, this is a platinum-grade performance. One expects nothing less. Yet I was left wondering if Ravel needs to be made dignified. The whole thing felt like Rhapsody in blue played by a Juilliard graduate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Erik North on December 30, 2011
Format: Audio CD
One of the ways that Maurice Ravel became known as one of the greatest composers, French or otherwise, at the turn of the 20th century is the way he combined his gift for orchestration and his gift for the piano. He totally understood both aspects; and on two occasions, he combined those aspects together, with the Piano Concerto In D For The Left Hand, composed specifically for pianists who have lost mobility in their right hand, and the always tricky and jazz-inspired Piano Concerto In G. It takes a tremendous amount of skill and nerve to do either concerto at all, much less well.

Fortunately, this Deutsche Grammophon recording has not only a pianist who can do them well, but also a conductor more than willing to assist. The pianist in this case is Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who had made a lot of recordings prior to this one, primarily of the more classical concertos of Mozart and Beethoven with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (in the Beethoven works, Nikolaus Harnoncourt was the conductor). The conductor is the deceptively colorless but always highly skilled Pierre Boulez, who knows his way around his fellow Frenchman's works. And the orchestra in this case is the Cleveland Orchestra, which Boulez has had a hugely productive relationship with since 1965, when he was first invited by George Szell to conduct the orchestra. Aimard's pianism in the Ravel concertos is something to behold, as is his handling of the solo piano collection of Ravel's known as "Miroirs", which includes the original piano version of "Alborado Del Gracioso." Boulez also must be given a standing ovation for guiding the Cleveland Orchestra through Ravel's tricky orchestration, especially the jazzy passages of the G Major concerto, which was the composer's homage to Mozart, Saint-Saens, and George Gershwin.

For me, this was one of the best recordings for the year 2010; and for anyone who likes 20th century music inspired by jazz, as Ravel was in these concertos, this is for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Adrian on December 14, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As a matter of taste, when it comes to French music, I prefer to have it performed by French musicians. This may be not a recommendable preconception, but it seems to work. For instance, I am fond of Pascal Roge playing the complete concertos by Saint-Saens (on a Decca twofer released long ago) or Jean-Yves Thibaudet championing Ravel' concertos (also for Decca) in a benchmark version, both conducted by the same inspired Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit.

I actually think that it is very important for a musician to be genuinely grown and immersed for a long time in a cultural/musical medium in order to be able to convey through his/her interpretation all the subtleties and nuances of a work belonging to that very medium.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard is that kind of musician who needs a thorough comprehension of the piece he plays. He seeks for a particular intimacy with the piece, so that he shines in performing it only when the piece is completely surrounded and each detail gets its right place in the conception of the performer. Aimard blends in a compelling ratio the two main ingredients of a masterful interpretation - feeling and rationale - so that the construction of the whole needs more than mere playing by heart the notes and markings. It was the case with his most recent album devoted to Debussy's Preludes, where the French virtuoso simply he reigned supreme the proceedings in a seductive French manner.

Here, Aimard chooses the two celebrated piano concertos by Ravel. They are treated with an infallible flair by the soloist. All his knowledge, all his insight, all his sensitivity are disposed in order to relish the special energies of these indisputable masterpieces of the XXth century. As in Debussy, Pierre-Laurent Aimard firmly marks the axes of his authoritative vision, a reference not to be avoided by future versions.
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Ravel: The Piano Concertos / Miroirs
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