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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Vincent Larderet, Ravel, The Complete Works for Solo Piano, Vol. One

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), as many readers will ,know. was one of the 20th centuries most original and poetic of composers for the piano. His was a voice of great color and poise. He gives the contemporary pianist a manifold challenge for realizing great expression and symphonic dimensions, along with a great intimacy of voice that broke new grounds continually. Pianist Vincent Larderet appears with the first of several volumes devoted to The Complete Works for Solo Piano  (Avie AV2623).

In this inaugural volume Larderet tackles five remarkably articulate and brilliant compositional sets, allowing the pianist to hold forth with novel and appealing interpretations that give us pause and move us along into Ravel's special aural world.

The set opens with Ravel's five movement Miroirs (1904-05) a breakthrough world of great sound color impressions and clangorous tonal brilliance. Larderet brings his own personally inventive aesthetics to each movement. 

The 1903-05 Sonatine forms another high water mark of pianistic dazzle with effective stretching of rubato singularity that stands out among classic renditions since the advent of the LP Ravel's ravishing Pavane pour une infante defunte (1899) chimes in as another outstanding reading, a hovering liquidity of great beauty one should not miss in this reading. The Jeux d'eau (1901) and the Valses noble et sentimentales (1911) are not in any way lagging and benefit from a thorough immersion in the periodicity of Ravel's and so bring forth a period charm here. Larderet shines thoughtfully regardless. which work on this set

Whether you are familiar with this music or are a newcomer you will doubtless benefit greatly by the pianist's genuine feeling for the music. Bravo. Catch a free stream of the music here:

Monday, March 18, 2024

Plinio Fernandes, Bacheando, Works for Solo Classical Guitar


Brazilian born classical guitar virtuoso Plinio Fernandes returns with more sparkling fare for solo classical guitar, this time flourishing within the Bachian strain with works initially written for  lute by Bach, followed by Paulinho Noguera's Bachianinha Nos 1 and 3 plus other gems by Assaf, Villa Lobos and Mario Albanese on the album Bacheando (Decca Gold B0038-493-02). The eleven works here presented are substantial, the performances do not distract with a lot of rubato so much as they move nicely forward with a kind of infectiously rocking presence.

It all does not attempt to overwhelm so much as it gives you a compact brilliance that speaks to our contemporary sensibilities. It convinces by staying close to the original spirit of the music and in so doing Fernandes distinguishes himself as one of the very best today.

Listen to a stream at

Bravo, Plinio. A  fine effort.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

George Crumb, Music For Amplified Piano, (1979-2012), Yoshiko Shimizu, Celestial Mechanics, Zeitgeist, Otherworldly Resonances


If you are like me you sometimes think of various lists of favorite artists and/or perhaps composers... like for example what about the more important and innovative High Modern composers for the piano, like Ives, OK, then perhaps Cage, Messaien, Stockhausen, and George Crumb? I suspect many aficionados would include Crumb, surely. His open, sometimes sparse, spooky style with sustains and various inside the piano trademarks, such as pluck, strum, slide, sustained echoes, then centering folk-like motives or High Modern tattoos on the piano keys, etc. have justly gained a lot of attention and appreciation over the years.

With Crumb it all started with various early works featuring piano voice and other instruments, leading to the various volumes of his celebrated Mikrokosmos. It all culminates in his last works, which happily are well represented in this new volume of Music for Amplified Piano (Kairos 0022012KAI) as beautifully realized by Yoshiko Shimizu.

So to begin we get Makrokosmos IV, or in other words Celestial Mechanics (1979/2021), the Cosmic Dances for Amplified Piano, Four and Six hands, then Zeitgeist (1988), and finally Otherworldly Resonances (2005), the final two for Two Amplified Pianos. 

Yoshiko Shimizu heroically creates the immersive piano worlds for each piece with dramatic distinction and convincing thrust. It is an ideal hearing of these wonderful end works that fully deserve our repeated attention. Bravo. Highly recommended.