For many a concertgoer Rapsodie Espagnoleis an evocative musical postcard, an atmospheric curtain-raiser for weightier symphonic spectaculars – but listen closely and you may recognise a masterwork that, by its understatement and dynamic reticence, hides its light under a bushel. Ravel’s genius as an orchestrator is most obvious in the extravagances of Daphnis et Chloeor La Valsebut here it is distilled into purest essence.

Debussy, Ravel album artwork

Take a look at the score’s opening pages for a lesson in economy; so few notes but so much atmosphere, yet the two piano version casts nearly as potent a spell so the expression is intrinsic to the thematic material and harmonies and not just a matter of sonority and timbre. There...

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