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Reviews: Ravel: Complete Piano Solo Works - El Bacha

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Review by Fugue December 7, 2011 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I don't have time for an extensive piece by piece review, but suffice it to say that this recording contains beautiful playing captured in beautiful sound. El Bach's name is new to me, but he has quite an impressive background and has won prestigious competitions.

My test piece by Ravel is "Gaspard de la Nuit." Compared to Ivo Pogorelich, El Bacha does not so consciously/overtly "interpret" the music. He very elegantly (and dramatically when called for) presents the composer's music with stunning accuracy--this piece certainly seems not to hold any technical terrors for him. Pogorelich's "Scarbo" may scamper around a bit more menacingly at times, but El Bacha's still contains plenty of impact and is played with very musical phrasing. He's not from the daredevil "look ma no hands" school where the bravura obscures the music. This is not to say he doesn't add his own interpretive touches; it's just that he seems to want to present the music first rather than showing off his chops, of which he has plenty.

The sound is crystal clear with a medium distance perspective: the mics are not under the lid, nor are they in the rear of the hall. I'd say it's similar to Silverman's Mozart Sonatas on IsoMike--perhaps a bit brighter. The rear channels contain ambient information and virtually no direct sound.

So, if you place musical clarity and structure over throat-grabbing displays of prestidigitation, then this set might just be for you.

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