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Ravel: Complete Music for Solo Piano

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 4, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

The inimitable Abbey Simon is one of the greatest and most prolific American pianists of all time, with a career that currently spans over 70 years. One of the biggest stars to record for Vox, Simon toured the world throughout the twentieth century and beyond, his command of Romantic piano works unparalleled. On these two discs, he performs all of Maurice Ravel's works for solo piano, including many of his most famous and popular works including Jeux d'Eau, La Valse, Le Tombeau de Couperin, and the 'Miroirs' and 'Gaspard de la Nuit' suites.
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Product Details

  • Conductor: Abbey Simon
  • Composer: Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (November 4, 1992)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: VOX (CLASSICAL)
  • Run Time: 138.26 minutes
  • ASIN: B000001K24
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,605 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Here's yet another three disc vinyl Vox Box I cut my teeth on, finally transferred to CD in 1991. Growing up, and collecting records like they were going out of style (little did we know!), I must have had no less than four or five complete sets of Ravel's piano music; yet, the one that has remained in my collection is the Simon.

For me, Simon is the consummate Ravel pianist, and I've heard my share of Ravel (obviously). He's got "bite." He's got fluency, like liquid butter. He's got panache and a genuine "feel" for the Ravel idiom (a characteristic many pianists strive for, but never attain, that seems as natural as breathing to Simon); he's got "mystery." He's got charm, and an impish quality, too.

All this adds up to two major points: The Music. And the performer. Ravel and Simon merge seamlessly.

I've never heard a "Valses nobles et sentimentales" played with such verve, such sweep, such depth. Nor a "Tombeau de Couperin" with a mixture of heady expressionism, stealth and an intriguing waywardness.

As well, Simon's "Gaspard" and "Miroirs" are fabulous poetic etchings. And the Sonatine? Superb!

His "Pavane" is exquisitely touching; and "La Valse," thrilling.

The sound belies the age of these recordings: it is well-rounded, full, yet detailed, warm and present. It rivals many of today's high-priced, digital CDs, not only in sound, but performance.

Frankly, regardless of price, this VoxBox two-fer, is a critical Ravel resource, and Abbey Simon an invaluable guide.

[Running time: CD 1: 65:18 CD 2: 70:11]
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Format: Audio CD
I became familiar with this collection only after I had reviewed Louis Lortie's collection of Ravel's piano music. Although I gave Lortie a 5-star rating, and I believe that still holds true, I reach for Abbey Simon's collection more often. I also indicated that Lortie's recording had become my standard, and I am not sure I would continue to say that -- Simon has challenged Lortie in that position. I completely agree with the previous reviewers who note that this collection is a find at any price, and that the special characteristics of Abbey Simon's artistry finds its most perfect expression in Ravel's piano music
Abbey Simon has long been one of my favorite pianists. As some of the previous reviewers have indicated, he is a master of pianistic color, voicing and tone. His performances almost always have a unique signature that makes them distinguishable from everyone else. His piano, a Baldwin, also seems to have a unique sound -- with a big warm resonant bass and scintillating treble. The Vox analog recordings do a surprisingly good job of capturing his special tone and color. They were always among my favorite recordings even in the days of the LP.
I knew Abbey Simon's recording of Gaspard de la Nuit from about 20 years ago from a Vox LP that also included Valses Nobles et Sentimentales. Despite having heard other performances of Ondine, after listening to Simon I just had to obtain the sheet music to learn the piece myself. I think no higher compliment can be paid to a pianist than that he inspires others to approach the music. More than any other pianist, Abbey Simon has re-introduced a familiar piece to me in a way that makes me want to play it. I fully agree with another reviewer who said that his Chopin recordings are worth obtaining as well.
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Format: Audio CD
Abbey Simon has a reputation as a pianist's pianist, and this two-disc collection demonstrates why. Simon is thoroughly at home in Ravel's world, whether it's the diabolical difficulty of "Gaspard de la Nuit" or the delicate simplicity of "Menuet Antique." His technique never falters, his tone is liquid gold. Especially considering the budget price of this CD set, there is no better choice in this particular repertoire.
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By A Customer on September 18, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This CD offers one of life's rarities: The best product at the cheapest price. Ravel's solo piano music is one the most enjoyable in the genre, combining as it does the sophistication, fire, and elegance of classical music with occasional touches of good ol' American jazz! Abbey Simon is absolutely at home with these works, carrying them off with the appropriate bravura or sensitivity. Mr. Simon's technique is phenomenal; his touch, liquid. (Abbey Simon's recordings of Chopin's solo music, also available from Vox, are highly recommended as well.)
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By A Customer on October 19, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This cd presents Abbey Simon's astonishingly elegant and urbane pianism at its best. He is a perfect match for this repertoire.
No pianist of the past 50 years surpassed Simon's mastery of voicing and color at the keyboard. No matter what other favorite versions you may have, don't fail to purchase this one at its giveaway price.
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Format: Audio CD
Many years ago I made a disparaging remark in my $ensible Sound magazine column about the original LP release; what an idiot I was! My remark had to do with the liberal use of pedals by Mr. Simon, which seemed to distort the music. Listening now, I find his approach different, but quite wonderful. Maybe I am getting soft in my old age, but so be it. By any measure, this is a wonderful performance.

This delightful set is now available in a two-CD set that is even more delightful than it is inexpensive, making it one heck of a bargain. If you are new to classical music and have not yet experienced the magical piano music of Ravel, please do not hesitate to take the plunge. You will be glad you did. This music is magic!
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