Thursday, February 9, 2012
Charles Koechlin, Les Heures Persian, for Piano Solo, Ralph van Raat
Charles Koechlin (1867-1950) was a maverick. While the cutting-edge music of France was the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Koechlin went beyond into a territory few occupied at the time, and none like he did. His Les heures persannes, in the version for solo piano, was written between 1916-19. The 16 pieces have a modern bite to them, a more complex and pan-tonal harmonic-melodicism than the impressionists, and a broader dynamic from very soft to fire-drill ultra fortissimo.
Pianist Ralph van Raat has recorded the cycle, which is great because it is available on Naxos (8.572473) at their budget price.
Van Raat gives us a sensitive yet turbulent reading, lingering over the hushed mysteries and driving with passion in the edgier sections.
This is first-rate Koechlin and it is first-rate Ralph van Raat.