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Nojima Plays Ravel

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 23, 1993
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Undoubtedly one of the world’s foremost players of Ravel." – Record Geijutsu

Classic 1990 recording reissued by popular demand. One of Japan’s most internationally respected pianists, Minoru Nojima began piano lessons at the age of three and at ten years old made his debut with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Nojima was invited by the Soviet Cultural Affairs Ministry to study at the Moscow Conservatory of Music between 1966 and 1968 under the tutelage of Lev Oborin, during which time he performed numerous recitals in Moscow, Leningrad, and elsewhere in the Soviet Union. After success in several competitions, in 1969 he walked away with second prize in the Third Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Nojima’s career went from strength to strength and, the following year, he earned effusive praise from the New York Times for his debut recital at Carnegie Hall. Since then, from his bases both in New York and Tokyo, he has maintained an active schedule of recitals, orchestra engagements, and chamber music performances throughout the United States,! Europe, and Asia. Nojima’s Suntory Hall recital, featuring works by Ravel, was hailed by major Tokyo newspapers as being "the best performance heard in years" and Nojima was praised as having "a miraculous technique, his musicianship is polished to the extreme".

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Although the music and performances on this disc are superb, it gets only a qualified recommendation. Minoro Nojima plays these two demanding Ravel suites with all the fluency and color you could ever want to hear, running the range from an eerie Le Gibet to a really thrilling Alborada del Gracioso. The piano sound is outstandingly rich, also. But the pianist didn't play more than these pieces of Ravel, and the company didn't want to couple them with music by another composer, so they agreed to put out this disc with a little less than 50 minutes on it. If that's enough for you, go ahead and buy it. It's wonderful as long as it lasts. --Leslie Gerber
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Product Details

  • Performer: Minoru Nojima
  • Composer: Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (April 23, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reference Recordings
  • ASIN: B00000158C
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,532 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By David A. Kemp on August 28, 2003
Format: Audio CD
A wonderful recording. Nojima may well be the finest pianist most people have never heard of. Minoru Nojima was a child prodigy in Japan, won a major nationwide competition there as a teenager, studied with Lev Oborin in Moscow and then with Constance Keene and Abram Chasins in New York, and burst upon the international music scene as a winner of the Van Cliburn piano competition in 1969. Although known and highly respected amongst pianists as a "pianist's pianist," he is not well known to most music lovers, largely because he doesn't like to make recordings and has made extremely few. His first recital available in the USA was his 1986 CD Nojima Plays Liszt for the San-Francisco-based audiophile label Reference Recordings. It was enthusiastically received and won rave reviews in several publications. This Ravel CD is the successor to that one. Like the Liszt recital, this technically superb, rich-sounding digital recording was made (in 1989) by Keith Johnson in the Civic Auditorium of Oxnard, California; Nojima plays the same tonally beautiful Hamburg Steinway concert grand. The piano sound here is state-of-the-art, very much like (and perhaps even a tad better than) the stunning sound of the Liszt recital.
Nojima thrives on and indeed seems to seek out music that bristles with formidable technical difficulties and challenges. These he surmounts without breaking a sweat; he almost makes such music sound easy. The pieces here are in their way no less demanding than those in his heroic Liszt recital. Nojima plays Miroirs (1905), five pieces, and Gaspard de la nuit (1908), three slightly longer pieces. Miroirs is certainly taxing enough, but Gaspard de la nuit is even more intimidating.
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Minoru Nojima is the Clark Kent of pianists. This mild, self-effacing fellow transforms into supernatural powers when placed in front of a piano. In the case of Liszt, reviewed elsewhere, Nojima shows both his power and brilliance. These Ravel works, Miroirs and Gaspard de la Nuit, show off the amazing subtlety of Nojima's pianism. Shimmering is the best adjective I can come up with to describe them. Nojima has to be one of the world's greatest exponents of the romantic era. Unfortunately, the Ravel and the Liszt, both remastered from analog tapes by Reference Recordings, are the only commercial recordings by Nojima available, as far as I know. Get them both.
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