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Maurice Ravel

Saturday, March 25, 2017


My Classical Notes

March 16

Richter Plays Gershwin

My Classical NotesI was quite surprised today when I learned that the late pianist Sviatoslav Richter had recorded music by George Gershwin. Yet, as I contemplated further, I recalled that Maurice Ravel was influenced by the music of Gershwin, as we can see in Ravel’s Piano Concerto. So… not all that strange after all. Here are details about the Richter recording: Svjatoslav Richter Plays: Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 ‘Egyptian’ Performed by Svjatoslav Richter (piano), with the Stuttgart SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach conducting. This recording apparently has already achieved cult status. The then, 78 year old Sviatoslav Richter plays for the first and last time in public Gershwin’s jazzy Concerto in F-sharp. Gershwin’s works had always been suspect under the Soviet regime. All the more surprising was Richter’s decision to perform this work in his maturity. Needless to say, Richter never made a formal, studio recording of this work. It is not only a unique recording, but also a document of Richter’s expansive interest in all musical repertoires than came under his purview. The Fifth Piano Concerto by Camille Saint-Saëns was eclipsed by the same composer’s more popular “Second” Concerto throughout Richter’s performing career. With the exception of one album, he never again recorded this work and there is no record that he ever again performed it internationally. Here is a recording of the Gershwin concerto in F:

Guardian

March 2

Howell/Beach/Chaminade: Piano Concertos CD review – clarity and steel

Danny Driver/BBCSSO/Miller (Hyperion)When Amy Beach (1867-1944) was a child in New England, her mother banned her from playing the piano in public until she turned 16. Strict Calvinism didn’t smile on girl prodigies. When she married at 18, her husband allowed her a concert per year, so instead she composed. Her Piano Concerto has the heft and torrent of music that needs to be written and Danny Driver plays it with clarity and steel, absolutely unsentimental but flecked through with empathy. The second movement might have revealed some more delicate orchestral shimmer – it sounds here like a chastely buttoned Ravel – but the sturdy weft Rebecca Miller gets from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra generally suits Beach’s broad-stitch writing. This release (volume 70 of Hyperion’s whopping Romantic Piano Concerto series) is timed for International Women’s Day on 8 March and also includes Dorothy Howell’s D Minor Concerto, a gracious throwback written in 1923, and the concertstuck by Cécile Chaminade. Ambroise Thomas liked her music: “This is not a woman who composes,” he declared, “but a composer who is a woman.” Continue reading...






Maurice Ravel
(1875 – 1937)

Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937) was a French composer of Impressionist music known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects. Much of his piano music, chamber music, vocal music and orchestral music has entered the standard concert repertoire. Ravel's piano compositions, such as Jeux d'eau, Miroirs, Le tombeau de Couperin and Gaspard de la nuit, demand considerable virtuosity from the performer, and his orchestral music, including Daphnis et Chloé and his arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, uses a variety of sound and instrumentation. Ravel is perhaps known best for his orchestral work Boléro (1928), which he considered trivial and once described as "a piece for orchestra without music."



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