- Ralph Raat (Piano)
Notes & Reviews:
A pupil of Massenet and Fauré, the prolific French composer and teacher Charles Koechlin expanded traditional harmonies and compositional techniques and was much admired by his contemporaries. Les heures persanes was inspired by Vers Ispahan, Pierre Loti's diary of a journey through Persia. Oriental atmospheres are recreated through cycles of day and night, and in piano writing completely new for its time. This evocative piece salutes Koechlin's musical forebears as well as foreshadowing Messiaen through the "passionate and skilled" (The Sunday Times on 8.572570) advocacy of Ralph van Raat.
"It's good to have a bargain-price version from Naxos, and Ralph van Raat is a thoughtful interpreter...when Koechlin creates a palpable sense of rhythm he is excellent, as in the dynamic build-up of 'Le caravane', and in the rare fast movements." -BBC Music Magazine
The Buffalo News
Inspired by a diary kept by Pierre Loti during a trip through Persia, these "Persian Nights" not only prefigure Messiaen, just as Mompou does, but they prefigure Rautavaara, Part and Gorecki, in a way, too. Koechlin's approach to the piano was orchestral and brilliant and busy orchestrator that he was, he orchestrated this in 1921. The continual rediscovery of Koechlin is among the ongoing musical news of our time. Performances here by Van Raat are superb.
Van Raat's performance is stunning. Successfully telling a dreamy tale over the course of sixteen mostly slow movements is no small feat, but Van Raat conquers with slight gestures and splashes of color. His delicate shading and almost wispy touch is ideal for the reverie that much of the music induces. But Koechlin also can up the ante and van Raat makes hard-driving passages like Derviches dans la nuit (Dervishes in the night) with its thick bass and piercing runs, breathlessly thrilling.What's next for van Raat? I can't wait to hear.
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
He 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. 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.
The individual pieces capture different times of the day, embracing two and a half days total. A Siesta before departure opens the suite, in which he dreams of a traveling caravan, music touched perhaps by Borodin. L'escalade obscure (The dark ascent) concludes the opening half-day.Broken-tone passages illuminate a hazy world of flesh and fantasy, a mix of Debussy and Bartok, Satie and Stravinsky. Magic and gamelan tones weave a luxurious tapestry of sound, soft bells and gongs, chimes and occult tambourines. The music can be percussive, but the patina Raat projects on his sonorous Steinway... never becomes harsh or ugly.
The Northern Echo
Oriental atmospheres, recreated through cycles of day and night, are brilliantly conveyed.
David's Review Corner
Maybe his fascination with astronomy, mythology and orientalisam was to place him apart from the mainstream composers. live on as testimony to his fascination with tone colours.It is a work he described as 'un voyage imaginaire', it's sixteen sections taking us on a journey through some imagined exotic oriental land. it is in a rich harmonic language that knows no boundary, but offers a fascinating kaleidoscope of sounds. To achieve all of these effects calls for a high degree of technical accomplishment from the performer, though it is the pacing of the score and the ability to turn slow moving music into sensual pictures - with such titles as Clair de lune sur les terrasses (Moonlight on the terraces) - that can prove illusive. Having reviewed previous recordings from the Dutch pianist, Ralph van Raat, I have longed to hear this gifted young man in such a score, and I am not disappointed. He revels in the subtlety of the score, the most minute differences of dynamic markings creating everything that Koechlin could have envisaged. I hope this is the beginning of a series of French music recordings from van Raat. The sound is all you can wish.
Les heures persanes unfolds in a dreamlike way in Ralph van Raat's committed reading, playing that is truly inside the music - an artist ploughing his own furrow.
Recording information: Sweelinckzaal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (08/11/2010/08/12/2010).
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Works DetailsKoechlin, Charles : Les Heures Persanes, 16 pieces for piano, Op. 65
- Performer: Ralph Raat (Piano)
- Notes: Sweelinckzaal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (08/11/2010/08/12/2010)
- Running Time: 53 min. 15 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Written: 1913-1919