Alice Sara Ott: Nightfall – Debussy: Rêverie; Suite bergamasque; Satie: Gnossiennes Nos 1 & 3; Gymnopédie No 1; Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit; Pavane pour une infante défunte

Reviewed on Tue 18 Sep, 2018

Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit offers a gradual descent into dark interiority, his Pavane appropriately brittle and tender.

Atmosphere and mood are key in this collection of piano pieces marking night’s emergence. It’s by no means a new theme and not so long ago would have been marketed as a ‘chill-out’ album. But it’s decidedly more than that. Satie’s First Gymnopédie and a brace of his Gnossiennes (the Third strikingly forlorn and lost-sounding), all played with pristine, cut-crystal delicacy suggests that. Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit offers a gradual descent into dark interiority, his Pavane appropriately brittle and tender. The crepuscular-accented idiosyncrasies that elastically stretch Gaspard (‘Le gibet’ spun out with Pinteresque passes aplenty inking in an indelible sense of suspended mystery) also mark out Ott’s approach from plentiful other competitors in this repertoire and feel altogether intentional. Measured and meticulous, too, even while occasionally erring on the wrong side of indulgence. Even so, there’s much to enjoy here, Ott beautifully illuminating the unease of encroaching darkness with intelligent, inquisitive performances.
–Michael Quinn