Monday, March 28, 2016

Monique Haas Plays Maurice Ravel

Like Debussy, Ravel seemed destined for a career as a virtuoso pianist. From an early age he was on friendly terms with the Catalan pianist Ricardo Viñes, who gave the first performances of many of his keyboard pieces and who introduced him to the works of the Symbolist poets. He completed his Pavane pour une infante défunte in 1899 but then, reacting against the Neo-Classicism of the piece, adopted a different style of keyboard writing for Jeux d'eau (1901), combining bitonality and pentatonicism with what Ricardo Viñes was later to describe as “a pedal in the treble in order to give a vague impression of vibrations in the air rather than conveying the clarity of the individual notes”. Yet the Sonatina of two years later is a delicate, finely chiselled work that recalls the finest of eighteenth-century objets d’art. After the success of Jeux d‘eau and the Sonatina, Ravel seems to have felt a certain difficulty in deciding which way to tum next in writing for the piano. In his autobiography he admits that Miroirs (1905) was “a collection of piano pieces that marked a sufficiently great change in my harmonic development to disconcert even those musicians who had grown used to my earlier manner”. In his next work, the Romantic Gaspard de la nuit (1907-08), Ravel set out to surpass the awesome virtuosity of Balakirev’s famous Islamey and Liszt’s twelve Transcendental Studies. The shimmering textures of “Ondine" give way to “Le Gibet” (The Gibbet), built around the single note of B-Flat which, omnipresent and obsessive, evokes with its immobility “the bell that beats at the walls of a town beneath the distant horizon, while the hanged man’s corpse turns red in the rays of the setting sun," to quote from Louis Bertrand’s poem. "Scarbo", finally, is a demonic dwarf who gives his name to the last part of the triptych, one of the most incredible pieces in the whole of the keyboard repertory. In 1914 there was a great temptation to return to the spirit of the French music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, not least because the Great War had just broken out, bringing with it the feeling that every-hing Germanic was dangerous and destructive. lt was in this spirit, therefore, that Ravel wrote Le Tombeau de Couperin, a masterly example of the composer‘s sophisticated sound world.
Denis Herlin (translated by Stewart Spencer), from the booklet

Monique Haas
Maurice Ravel


Cd. 1

Cinq pièces pour piano
1 Noctuelles  5:12
2 Oiseaux tristes  4:49
3 Une barque sur l'océan  8:25
4 Alborada del gracioso  6:41
5 La Vallée des cloches  5:52

6 Jeux d'eau  5:33
7 Pavane pour une Infante défunte  7:03
8 Menuet antique  6:23
9 Prélude  1:40
10 A la manière de... Emmanuel Chabrier  1:58
11 A la manière de... Borodine  1:47
12 Menuet sur le nom de Haydn  2:03

Ma Mère l'Oye
Cinq pièces enfantines pour
piano à quatre mains
13 Pavane de la Belle au Bois-Dormant  1:29
14 Petit Poucet  2:42
15 Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes  3:08
16 Les Entretiens de la Belle et le Bête  3:52
17 Le Jardin féérique  3:26


Cd. 2

Le Tombeau de Couperin
Six pièces pour piano
1 Prélude  3:12
2 Fugue  3:11
3 Forlane  5:07
4 Rigaudon  2:31
5 Menuet  4:03
6 Toccata  4:00

Gaspard de la nuit
Trois poèmes pour piano,
d'après Aloysius Bertrand
7 Ondine  6:42
8 Le Gibet  5:57
9 Scarbo  8:53

10 Modéré  4:28
11 Menuet  3:09
12 Animé  4:08

Valses nobles et sentimentales
13 Modéré - Très franc  1:24
14 Assez lent  2:37
15 Modéré  1:18
16 Assez animé  1:14
17 Presque lent  1:31
18 Vif  0:43
19 Moins vif  2:54
20 Epilogue  4:03


Monique Haas - p
Ina Marika - p [Cd. 1, # 13-17]

Recorded at Eglise Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris ; January, April & July 1968


Melanchthon said...

jm said...

Extraordinary (as so often with your generous and thoughtful offerings to us)! Thank you.

Historicus said...

Thanks a lot, excellent choice.
Now we miss Gieseking's interpretation too :-)

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

As always...fantastic!

Brush&Stick said...

This looks beautiful, thanks so much!