NOCTUELLES – RAVEL: Miroirs / MEDTNER: Improvisation, No. 2, Op. 47 (includes première recordings)

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BBC Music Mag ***** | RECOMMENDED (Musicweb International)
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Released 22 Jan 2021

Michael Stephen Brown piano


Maurice RAVEL (1872–1937)
Miroirs (1904–1905)
1. I. Noctuelles (Night Moths)
2. II. Oiseaux tristes (Sad Birds)
3. III. Une barque sur l’océan (A Boat on the Ocean)
4. IV. Alborada del gracioso (The Jester’s Aubade)
5. V. La Vallée des cloches (The Valley of the Bells)

Nikolai MEDTNER (1879–1951)
Second Improvisation (in variation form), Op. 47 (1925)
6. Theme: Song of the Water Nymph (Andante)
7. Variation 1: Meditation – (Poco con moto e al rigore di tempo)
8. Variation 2: Caprice (Capriccioso) –
9. Variation 3: Feathered Ones – (Allegro capriccioso – Allegro vivo e risoluto)
10. Variation 4: Charms – (Allegretto con moto)
11. Variation: La Cadenza (Largamente) (Poco quasi una cadenza) *
12. Variation 5: Humoresque (Allegretto ritmico) –
13. Variation 6: In the Stream (Lesto) –
14. Variation 7: The Tumult of the Crowd – (Poco a poco vivace – Vivace, risoluto – Vivo)
15. Variation 8: In the Forest – (Andante sognando – Andante)
16. Variation 9: The Wood-Goblin – (Allegro ritmico)
17. Variation 10: Elves – (Prestissimo)
18. Variation 11: Gnomes – (Allegro risoluto)
19. Variation: Pesante *
20. Variation 12: Incantation – (Andante maestoso)
21. Variation 13: The Threat – (Allegro tenebroso – Con moto instantamente – Tempo I)
22. Variation 14: Song of the Water Nymph – (Poco con moto e al rigore di tempo)
23. Variation 15: Bad Weather – (Tranquillo, ma poco a poco più mosso e crescendo – Sempre allegro agitato)
24. Conclusion (Andante – Maestoso) (Poco con moto e al rigore di tempo)

* Première recording of newly discovered variation

1CD digiFile

Recorded at the Olivier Music Barn, Tippet Rise Arts Centre, Fishtail, Montana, USA, 2–10 January 2019

Produced by Adam Golka and Roman Rabinovich
Engineered, edited and mastered by Monte Nickles assisted by Jim Ruberto 
DXD 24bit, 352.8kHz hi-resolution recording and mastering
Booklet notes by Michael Stephen Brown
Artwork by David Murphy (FHR)

Press Quotes

“Recorded in beautiful sound Brown has the measure of both these works with lovely pedalling throughout, and graded dynamics and colours in both works… Michael Brown has the measure of its many facets and the whole CD is a real feast for the ears… the results are wonderful” (RECOMMENDED Musicweb International)

“It’s a truism to declare that Ravel was a master of exquisite new sonorities, but how many pianists realise the luminosity and the quietest dynamics as well as Brown? Melodic fragments are always subtly highlighted; grouping the work in two pairs followed by a numinously majestic epilogue, the pianist makes ‘The Valley of the Bells’ a spellbinding highlight, resonating in mid-air… a treasurable diptych.” (performance ***** | recording ***** BBC Music Magazine)

“Une inter­pretation toute de luxe, de calme et de volupte” (Ravel)
“Plus subtil que Tozer (Chandos), plus hero’i’que que Milne (CRD), plus fantaisiste que Prom­machart (Champs Hill}, Michael Brown fait sien chaque sortilege du musicien russe. Delicieux.” (Medtner)  (***** Diapason Magazine)

“This is a very enjoyable recording with superb piano sound and a fascinating booklet essay” (American Record Guide)

… it took only the first few measures of Miroirs to convince me that I was in the presence of an exceptional colorist—and the more I listened, the more deeply that conviction took hold… Engineer Monte Nickles has provided exceptional sound… All in all, a treasure(Fanfare)

“… his [Brown’s] technique is crystalline, dynamically fluid and deeply expressive”  (Classical Music Sentinel)

“An excellent album”  (Art Music Lounge)

“Shimmering, flowing, balletic Ravel, and incredible virtuosity with great sensitivity, detail and contrasts in evocative Medtner” (Classical Notes)

“Sacré pianiste qui nous précipite dans ce jeu à double miroir. Instrument et prise de son somptueux.” (Sacred pianist who precipitates us in this double mirror game. Sumptuous instrument and sound recording.)  (Artamag)