A century ago Debussy and Ravel were the leading French composers – or illusionists. Both excelled in the art of omission: they exchanged Romantic grandiloquence for subtlety. Tonal colour came to equal the notes themselves in importance. Thus they paved the way for post-war French composers such as Gérard Grisey.
Ravel himself orchestrated his piano work Le tombeau de Couperin but left out two movements. Asko|Schönberg play the complete suite in a recent arrangement by Wolfgang Renz. Ravel’s Poèmes de Mallarmé recalls the atmosphere of Debussy’s Préludes: associative, dreamlike miniatures with a richly sensual sound. In comparison to this, Grisey’s Partiels sounds like a scream, or at any rate a painstaking analysis of one. It is music as a physical experience – ranging from a caress to a punch.
Le tombeau de Couperin (arr. Wolfgang Renz)
Vijf préludes (arr. Hans Zender)
Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé