Alexander Krichel – Miroirs: Ravel Piano Works (2017) [Qobuz 24-96]

Alexander Krichel – Miroirs: Ravel Piano Works (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:18:53 minutes | 1,15 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Q0buz | Digital Booklet | © Sony Classical

Few pianists can claim a more impressive recording debut than Alexander Krichel’s masterful Liszt recital in 2011 (Telos/Profil). It was followed by two concerto releases, the first offering works by Mozart, Hummel and Chopin and a second with Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto and the Moments musicaux (both Sony Classical) as well as another solo disc with a mixed Romantic programme. All these suggest a steady career trajectory and artistic growth unencumbered by external pressures. Krichel, a Hamburg native who turns 28 this year, has now released an all-Ravel disc, replete with shimmering surfaces and gossamer textures beautifully captured by the Sony engineers.

Krichel favours steadier tempos than the norm, with minimal rubato and judicious pedalling that keeps Ravel’s wealth of detail in sharp focus. His extraordinary leggiero playing is natural, agile and graceful, radiating an emotional health that is refreshingly free of any hint of exhibitionism. If one occasionally wishes for a stronger sense of harmonic direction, those moments are rare.

Moods can alter in a second, as when the trio of an otherwise jaunty ‘Rigaudon’ turns strangely lonely or the prevailing ease and playfulness of ‘Alborada’ gives way to agonisingly questioning recitatives. Textures run the gamut from the sumptuous to the skeletal. ‘Une barque sur l’océan’, for instance, is as richly evocative as any canvas by Turner, while the shadows cast by the demon ‘Scarbo’ are all the more terrifying for their elusiveness. The identity of individual pieces contributes to the overall shape of an entire suite. Le tombeau de Couperin maintains a simplicity of utterance that is dispelled only in the final pages of the Toccata, which seem to burst forth like fireworks at Versailles.

Bertrand Chamayou’s complete traversal of all the piano music last year has set a high bar for Ravel players. Nonetheless, Krichel’s deep affinity for the composer is obvious and his readings have a cast all their own. His understated originality is always consistent with Ravel’s admonition to Marguerite Long that, rather than interpretation, his music requires realisation. (Gramophone)

Tracklist

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Le tombeau de Couperin, M. 68
1 I. Prélude 03:29
2 II. Fugue 03:28
3 III. Forlane 06:13
4 IV. Rigaudon 03:35
5 V. Menuet 04:50
6 VI. Toccata 04:11

Miroirs, M. 43
7 I. Noctuelles 05:07
8 II. Oiseaux tristes 04:28
9 III. Une barque sur l’océan 07:06
10 IV. Alborada del gracioso 06:52
11 V. La Vallée des cloches 05:56

Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55
12 I. Ondine. Lent 06:29
13 II. Le Gibet. Très lent 06:30
14 III. Scarbo. Modéré 10:26

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