Ravel Chamber Works
The piano lutheal, used at the Paris premiere of Tzigane, is an instrument modified to sound like a cimbalom. Its timbre isn’t quite the same, but Pascal Roge produces a wonderful range of sparkling metallic sounds, lending an exciting and exotic atmosphere to the performance. The violin playing in Tzigane is special too – Chantal Juillet’s gipsy style is absolutely convincing, the opening solo passage delivered with brilliantly characterized rhythms and a fine sense of timing.
If Tzigane is the most striking item on the disc, the other performances aren’t far behind. I especially enjoyed the short pieces, the velvety tone Juillet produces for Kaddisch, the elegant variations of tone (from both players) in the Piece en forme de Habanera, and the delicate textures and gentle phrasing of the Berceuse. In the two sonatas with piano the playing is fastidious and uncommonly well balanced. Roge never dominates – in the loudest passages he produces a clear sound, with resonance carefully controlled. The recording, too, is clear and bright. In the ‘big’ passages of the 1927 Sonata there’s no attempt to rival the barnstorming excitement of the Lin/Crossley recording, nor do they emulate the romantic warmth and urgency of Poulet and Lee. Juillet’s and Roge’s playing is cooler, but always expressive, with imaginative and beautiful variations of tone colour.
Juillet and Mork match each other excellently in the Sonata for violin and cello. Again, there’s a wide range of sonorities, including some suitably grotesque sounds in the second movement, and infectious rhythmic elan in the finale.'