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  Linn Records -
  CKD 290
  Ravel: The Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Artur Pizarro
  Ravel: Jeux d’eau, Gaspard de la nuit, Sérénade grotesque, Miroirs, La Valse

Artur Pizarro (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 6 show all

Reviews: 3
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Site review by Polly Nomial January 13, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:    
I so desperately want to wholeheartedly recommend this disc but sadly I cannot for only one (major) reason: the sound. Even so, the playing is of such high quality that this issue demands hearing.

The playing of Artur Pizarro is very fine throughout. In the opening Jeu d'Eau, he imparts a muscular though never insensitive impression of the water. First impressions though were distracted by the extraordinarily vague focus of the sound: it is as though a good recording has been relayed into an empty swimming pool and re-recorded! A very strange phenomenon and not at all pleasant for repeated listening. This issue affects all of the disc which is a great shame.

Compared to other modern accounts that are highly recommendable from a musical standpoint finds Pizarro giving us straighter but no less magical accounts than, say, Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Decca, RBCD). Pizarro's approach in Miroirs is less refined or perfumed in the more taxing parts (no wrong notes - just less delicate) but this is a choice that can work both ways and I wouldn't want to be without either; the music is just as entrancing either way. In a similar way, Gaspard de la nuit is also given a comparatively straight reading and many might feel that the playing is all the better for this - I would occasionally have liked a little more fantasy but it is hard when the recording is so bizarre.

The greatest shame is that the recording ruins an absolutely astonishing closing account of La Valse - it can surely never have been played with such aplomb or panache on piano before; it is so good that the sound in the head is orchestral not black and white! Quite brilliant virtuosity and an amazing sense of musicality that is highly captivating and is a thrilling end to a great recital - quite removed from the disappointing Rimsky-Korsakov: Piano Duos - Pizarro, Panomariovaite.

But the sound, oh the sound - terrible in the extreme and one wonders how it got to by pressed; when RBCD's sound far better than a modern SACD it is time to complain... Just in case it was a MCH issue, I took the unusual step (for me) of listening to the stereo and RBCD layers and this is inherent in all 3 layers. Oh dear. Let us hope that the second volume is better managed and that perhaps a re-pressing could correct the all too audible problems.

Fortunately, the Gaspard on Balakirev, Ravel, Mussorgsky - Freddy Kempf is far better recorded and is just as compelling a performance.

Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and

Review by March 3, 2014 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The Portuguese-born pianist Artur Pizarro is not a new artist at Linn Records, with his beautiful and lively interpretations of Bethoven's piano sonatas and Chopin`s reminisanser and sonatas. These are divided into four SACD discs, all of which are hybrid multi-channel records.

Now it is the turn of impressionist composers, and first out is this album with compositions by Ravel. It is the first in a series of two, to form the complete piano works of Maurice Ravel.

No surprise that Pizarro demonstrates passionate interpretations also of Ravel, and that he is just as much at home in a musical material that is far more modern than in the previous releases.

Already at first brief listening I attached myself especially to two pieces that are my clear favorites. The first is part 2 of Gaspard de la Nuit, called Le Gibet . In addition to imagining hearing kinship to the much younger French composer Olivier Messiaen, there are obvious lines of Claude Debussy's tones in this artful composition.

Far more radical is the last piece of the disc - La Valse. A reckless "comments" to the Viennese waltz, which in its ferocity almost expresses a kind of desperation and despair.

Neither this time buckets Linn Records, which eventually has a long tradition of coming with multi-channel releases with creative, but accurate approach to sound mix for many channels. Yet it is sonically some big surprises compared to the previous releases with Artur Pizarro. For this time recording room's acoustics had a far more dominant role than in the previous four releases. And at this point Linn Records balances on an edge, cause it is not to be denied that this is a bit on the price of the conveyance of the precision of Pizarro's feasting of keys, a precision which of course is present in full measure.

It's kind of like this option focuses more on the mood of the music than nuance and precision of the individual tones. And so one might say that this is precisely in line with Impressionism, therefore it is an impressionistic sound mix? I think it is also interesting to notice that this recording sonically works better in multi channel than in stereo.

This review is based on a review originally written and published by me at in 2007.

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Review by nickc February 23, 2008 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Tragically Polly is correct in his denunciation of the sound here. When Ondine rises she sounds like she has just come from the bottom of the Marianas Trench! It is even more of a tragedy when the playing by Pizarro is at the level of an Ashkenazy or an Argerich - though I don't know if anyone has ever attacked Scarbo as hard as the Tigress...

The bizarre thing is that the producer and engineer were the same as Pizarro's Chopin sonatas 2&3 where the sound is magnificently bold and rolls through your living room, making you think Pizarro himself were there playing in front of you. This disc unfortunately sounds more like he has taken residence in the bathtub.

Playing 5 stars, sound...a generous 2.

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Works: 5  

Maurice Ravel - Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55
Maurice Ravel - Jeux d'eau, M. 30
Maurice Ravel - La valse, M. 72
Maurice Ravel - Miroirs, M. 43
Maurice Ravel - Sérénade grotesque, M. 5