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Thread: Ravel playing Ravel, Debussy playing Debussy true or not?

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    Default Ravel playing Ravel, Debussy playing Debussy true or not?

    Can anyone kindly help confirm if there are any recordings available of Ravel playing Ravel, Debussy playing Debussy, the actual composers playing their own compositions with proof of authenticity? thank you

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    Member Kuntster's Avatar
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    Well since it was before recording equipment. Not so true. There is one piano roll of Debussy playing his "sunken cathedral" which is quite interesting to look at because of his very free metric style. I have not heard of anything from Ravel (Ravel did not play later in his life).

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I think I remember seeing a cd in the 1990's of a cd of their own works conducted by Ravel & Prokofiev. It was in a Philips historical recordings series, probably out of print now. I'm pretty sure my memory is correct?
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    I don't know about how to give proof, but I own a record of Ravel playing Ravel on a player piano. It's got the standard Ravel piano stuff: something from the tomb of Couperin, the hangman movement from Gaspard de la Nuit, and the pavane, along with some other things. It's really great to listen to.

    As for Ravel not playing in his later years... I though he was touring pretty close to his death? I'm not sure if memory serves me well here...
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    Member Praine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I don't know about how to give proof, but I own a record of Ravel playing Ravel on a player piano. It's got the standard Ravel piano stuff: something from the tomb of Couperin, the hangman movement from Gaspard de la Nuit, and the pavane, along with some other things. It's really great to listen to.

    As for Ravel not playing in his later years... I though he was touring pretty close to his death? I'm not sure if memory serves me well here...
    That is fascinating. So you're saying that these are real, legitimate recordings and not just piano rolls? Because we all know that Ravel did a few piano rolls. If you talk about a real recording (that most likely has heavy amounts of static), I would love to hear more about this. How did you obtain such a recording? I would assume it is very rare, is it not?

    EDIT: Ah, just realized you said "player piano" which is most often associated with piano rolls. Of which Ravel recorded quite a few.
    Last edited by Praine; Sep-12-2009 at 01:42.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reign of Praine View Post
    That is fascinating. So you're saying that these are real, legitimate recordings and not just piano rolls? Because we all know that Ravel did a few piano rolls. If you talk about a real recording (that most likely has heavy amounts of static), I would love to hear more about this. How did you obtain such a recording? I would assume it is very rare, is it not?
    I don't think these are legit recordings... I said in my earlier posts that they were made on player piano rolls (or the other kind of piano roll that Rachmaninoff made his earliest impressions on). Regardless, it's still a great recording, very full of nuance and color.

    As for how I got it... my dad gave it to me. I've not a clue as to how he obtained it. He's bought a lot of records from some really out-of-the-way-but-still-legal places.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Here is a link to Debussy playing his own work, Golliwogg's Cakewalk (in 1913).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMrdhgWR9Zk

    Enjoy.
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    I have the Debussy, but some of it won't play as the record sustained a crack during its journey. From what does play, you can tell that Debussy was a great pianist. Not a world-class concert pianist, but extremely accomplished. As you would expect, from his incredible output for the instrument. One of his secrets was that he kept the dynamics low most of the time, so that the climaxes could stand out. And of course there is his unique use of the pedals, and how he played as if his fingers went into the keys, not just over their surface. As if they directly contacted the strings of the piano. No one had ever played the piano quite like that. He certainly was a unique fellow.

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    The complete piano roll recordings by Ravel and Debussy can be found on You Tube, if anyone's interested. Having listened to other pianists play this music for decades, I find them fascinating and instructive. Here are the YT playlists to both:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn6_...Lon_gr4VH8TdGo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRI2...B2B8573769AD98

    https://www.amazon.com/Claude-Debuss...+plays+debussy

    https://www.amazon.com/Composer-Pian...FBMR3K0ZGTEPH9
    Last edited by Josquin13; Mar-09-2018 at 18:44.

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    Great thread. Thanks for letting us know these exist. I had heard of them before but never thought of checking them out.

    I guess the improvisational way Debussy plays these pieces hints towards the way pianists from Alfred Cortot’s era would play, taking a lot of liberties with the score. It’s something I like. Every musician who does that nowadays gets blasted for it. But then again, on the other hand, some people criticise musicians for sticking TOO much to the score, thus apparently making it sound bland. Damned if they do—damned if they don’t.

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