MOMPOU; RAVEL Reflections (Brocal)
Julien Brocal, a young French composer and pianist born in Arles, has studied with Erick Berchot and Rena Shereshevskaya at the École Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot. Since 2013 he has worked closely with Maria João Pires and I fancy her beneficent influence is evident. Last year Brocal made his recording debut in works of Chopin with Rubicon, a company also making its debut (4/17). His new Rubicon CD pairs two composers with Basque connections, Mompou and Ravel.
Brocal is a musician of distinction whose imaginative, intelligent and cultivated piano-playing is at once seductive and authoritative. In fact, the perfection and maturity of his Ravel is little short of astonishing. Brocal’s sensitivity to the composer’s subtlest indications on the page allows his performances to take flight in a corona of shifting colours and moods. Miroirs unfolds in a seemingly inevitable trajectory. From the delicate fluttering of ‘Noctuelles’ through the distant resonances of ‘La vallée des cloches’, it as though we stroll leisurely through a gallery of master paintings. ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ rolls, swells and subsides in a play of brilliant sunlight on water. A lithe, animated ‘Alborada del gracioso’ gambols about in the freshness of morning. In the Sonatine, Brocal foregrounds Ravel’s precision craftsmanship in a reading filled with pellucid colours and shimmering textures.
The same fine ear and sensitive touch, in combination with a superb sense of timing, bring the two Mompou sets to life. Charmes, a suite of gem-like miniatures, is particularly appealing. Brocal’s own tender, deeply affecting Nature morte is offered as an encore.
If this recording has a shortcoming, it might be that its programming runs the risk of concealing Brocal’s magisterial Ravel among the simpler textures, prevalent slow tempos and introversion of the Mompou pieces. It is impossible to predict in what direction Brocal’s gifts will lead him but I urge you not to miss the opportunity to hear this singular talent.