"The spirit of Liszt is ever-present in Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit
, composed in 1908. ... Ravel was inspired by the French poet Aloysius Bertrand's book of poems of the same name, written between 1832 and 1836 and published posthumously in 1842. ... Gaspard
is one of the iconic challenges of the repertoire: indeed, in its requirements for tone colour and atmosphere, and its range of articulation and dynamics, it demands as much of the piano as it does of the pianist. ... The water nymph Ondine attempts to lure the poet to be king in her palace at the bottom of the lake. The shimmering moonlight is magically portrayed, and throughout Ravel manages to weave Ondine's theme into the most intricate and original textures. Her final burst of laughter and disappearance in a cloud of white spray are superbly conjured in this vivid musical portrait. In 'Le Gibet' a bell tolls for the corpse of a hanged man, seen on the horizon, reddened by the setting sun -- a repeating B flat, unwavering, ever-present, always in the distance. Finally, the elusive Scarbo is a devilish dwarf, 'buzzing with mirth in the shadows.' He appears, then disappears; he spins pirouettes and does cartwheels; and finally he expires" (CD notes by Tim Parry).
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