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Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Gaspard de la Nuit [22:17]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphonic Etudes, op. 13 [24:56] *
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Out Of Doors, Sz. 81 [14:49] *
Beatrice Rana (piano)
rec. between 24 May and 9 June 2013, Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas. USA
Ravel reviewed as download.
* Not reviewed.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907606 [62:02]

This is a quick review of one work from Beatrice Rana’s debut recital on Harmonia Mundi: I felt that I wasn't not familiar enough with the Schumann and Bartok to feel qualified reviewing them.
 
Rana’s Gaspard de la Nuit begins with a fairly speedy Ondine. It’s a little imprecise in the first few pages, but builds up powerfully, and in the moments after the big climax Rana has a great command of the sound-effects describing the splash of the water. In Le Gibet the tolling bells are very well-commanded indeed - as consistent as can be. They toll gently, and Rana doesn’t alter this throughout, so at times the tolling of the bells become inaudible behind the melody, only to rise out of the mists again. The result is insistence, but of a patient, ominous sort, like a film villain who waits to be noticed in the background of the scene.
 
Scarbo is another dazzling account. Well, maybe dazzling isn’t the right word: it’s not a wild and crazy demon-party like Pogorelich, but still oozing menace and primitive terror. There’s a bass note at 4:53 - I kept playing it over and over - which booms out with the force of a bass drum. Maybe the central section is a little too much of a reprieve from the spooky atmosphere, and maybe Rana’s fingers run amiss twice, but really, it’s Scarbo and if you only botch a couple of chords you’re a magician already, especially in the context of such a good overall interpretation.
 
This is a live recording from the Van Cliburn competition, in which Beatrice Rana took the silver medal. Given how good Beatrice Rana’s Ravel is, she probably plays everything on the album exceptionally. What an exciting 20-year-old pianist.
 
Brian Reinhart