Wrestling with Ravel: Steven Osborne’s diary

Pianist Steven Osborne shares his diary of learning and recording Ravel’s fiendish Gaspard de la Nuit with The Guardian. Read the full article here.  

January 2009: Among pianists, Gaspard has a fearsome reputation, one of the contenders for the title of Most Difficult Piano Piece Ever Written, but… I’m quietly confident I can rise to the challenge.

May 2009: The hands have to move like lightning and my brain just can’t keep up. I’m starting to wonder if I will ever get to the end of this process.

June 2009: Chained to the piano.

December 2009: I rush outside only to slip on the ice and land on my left hand. I get it x-rayed and discover that I’ve broken my middle finger. Bugger.

September 2010: As the final take ends, I realise I feel more tired than at almost any other time in my life. But there is also gratitude – for music, for this amazing job I have… and above all for being finished.

Steven Osborne performs Gaspard de la Nuit, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and music by Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wednesday 5 October. Click here to book.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays Ravel

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a pianist who refuses to be pigeon-holed. He can be playing Beethoven one night and a world premiere the next and yet he brings the same clarity of vision to both performances.

In his International Piano Series recital tonight he will be demonstrating this remarkable versatility in a programme including music by Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel and George Benjamin. Aimard and Benjamin have been friends for many years, since the time of Benjamin’s studies with Messiaen and later with Boulez’s Ensemble InterContemporain.  Tonight’s performance of Benjamin’s Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm comes by way of a 50th birthday tribute to the composer.

Aimard reunites with Boulez once again in his latest disc for Deutsche Grammophon. Alongside the Ravel piano concertos the recording includes Ravel’s Miroirs which he will play in his recital and which has just been given a four star review by Audiophile magazine. 

If you enjoy the performance then you will be able to buy the CD after the recital and get it signed by the artist!

Tracy Lees