RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit; Miroirs suite; Jeux d’eau – Tzimon Barto, piano – Ondine

by | May 4, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

RAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit; Miroirs suite; Jeux d’eau – Tzimon Barto, piano – Ondine ODE 1095-2, 63:53 *****:

Wow – what an amazingly fresh take on Ravel’s piano music! It is at the opposite pole of the usual “lots of pedal to blur that impressionistic feeling” approach to Debussy and Ravel piano music. It strikes me as somewhat similar to Glenn Gould’s pedal-less touch in performing Bach on the piano.  The increase in emotional communication as a result is immense. The dynamic range of both Barto’s playing and Ondine’s engineering is also immense. He has a way of playing more pianissimo than anyone. And what more appropriate music from Ravel’s ouvre to open the CD than the dark and evil atmosphere of his three Gaspard de la nuit pieces – inspired by the poems of Aloysius Bertrand?  Barto’s spectacular treatment of Le Gibet (The Gallows) is guaranteed to raise those little hairs on your neck.

Barto’s previous Ondine CD was of sparkling performances on the piano of Rameau’s harpsichord music.  He came onto the music scene in the mid-1980s, is also a conductor, speaks several languages fluently, and a new collection of his poems plus a novel will be published this year.

The rest of the piano pieces are of the watery, impressionistic Ravelian tone-painting variety.  But realistically, Ravel was always the very precise note-placer – creating his impressions with the arduous labor of a Swiss watchmaker – a contrast to Debussy’s approach. So Barto’s very detache style seems to fit to perfection.  No matter whose previous recording of some of these works you may have in your collection, Barto’s will in no way be a duplication!

 – John Sunier

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