“Ever since I was a student, I have dedicated much of my practicing, studying and concertizing to Ravel’s music. I have always admired his virtuosity which, contrary to other virtuosic music, does not seem to me empty or banal at all. I have also often felt that, had I been granted the genius to compose, it would have been in a spirit similar to Ravel’s as I feel deeply identified with his music. Strangely enough, every time I read about the things he loved (automatons, the exact gear of machines, small objects, his love of fashion, the importance of small details, his perfectionism, Saint Jean de Luz…) I had to smile, feeling how similar I am in those details, and wondering how a good friend I could have been to someone like him…and Voilà!: It was a big surprise for me to read for the first time about the best friend of my admired composer.
Hélène Jourdan Mourhange met Ravel for the first time after a concert in which she performed his Trio, a true “tour the force” played in front of the composer. She was an interesting, intelligent woman, well versed in the arts and culture of her time, and was a talented violinist who, however, had to stop playing years later due to rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease, which prevented her at a young age from continuing her career. She then dedicated herself to musicology, reviews and other artistic activities.
Not only was she like me a violin player, but also shared that same disease which I suffered in my youth, and which obliged me to stop many times at important moments of my studies. Fortunately in my case it disappeared some years afterwards, half miraculously (it is a chronic disease), and half thanks to a very good holistic doctor. This has made me feel even closer to Ravel, and to feel a desire to make a tribute to Hélène by recording all the pieces written for her and thanks to her.”
– Lina Tur Bonet, violin
Marco Testori – cello
Pierre Goy – piano
Total time: 00:51:12
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||August 19, 2022|
There are of course alternative recordings for these pieces, but what you are acquiring here is a ‘concept album’ intended to take us back to the early decades of the 20th century and its atmosphere of musical exploration and discovery. In this regard this SACD hybrid recording is very effective, right down to the uneasy incomprehension met by the Sonata for violin and cello at its première. The programme deliberately moves from simpler music to this more substantial and demanding score, but with Ravel’s “great genius, colourful harmonies, the perfect machine of his music and his amazing fantasy” alongside his ‘muse’ in Hélène Jourdan-Mourhange, this is an out of the ordinary chamber music recording that is certainly worth anyone’s time.
Of great interest for me is Bonet’s election to use gut strings for violin and cello, as was customary at the time Ravel wrote these pieces. Also of interest, and not often heard, is Ravel’s version of Tzigane written for a very unusual historical piano called a “luthéal piano.” The luthéal piano is a prepared piano with registers of a harpsichord and a cymbal-like sound, and today is very rare. It provides a wonderful gypsy-like flavor that nicely suits Tzigane, making this a very unusual performance.
…this certainly makes this one of the more interesting recordings for violin and piano or cello, that I’ve heard this past year. And Bonet and her partners do not disappoint in their very engaging and delightful musicianship across the four works on this album. As you may imagine, Highly Recommended!
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