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" J. Brocal is a musician of distinction whose imaginative, intelligent and cultivated piano-playing is at once seductive and authoritative. In fact, the perfection and maturity of his Ravel is little short of astonishing. Brocal’s sensitivity to the composer’s subtlest indications on the page allows his performances to take flight in a corona of shifting colours and moods. Miroirs unfolds in a seemingly inevitable trajectory. From the delicate fluttering of ‘Noctuelles’ through the distant resonances of ‘La vallée des cloches’, it as though we stroll leisurely through a gallery of master paintings. ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ rolls, swells and subsides in a play of brilliant sunlight on water. A lithe, animated ‘Alborada del gracioso’ gambols about in the freshness of morning. In the Sonatine, Brocal foregrounds Ravel’s precision craftsmanship in a reading filled with pellucid colours and shimmering textures.
The same fine ear and sensitive touch, in combination with a superb sense of timing, bring the two Mompou sets to life. Charmes, a suite of gem-like miniatures, is particularly appealing. Brocal’s own tender, deeply affecting Nature morte is offered as an encore.
If this recording has a shortcoming, it might be that its programming runs the risk of concealing Brocal’s magisterial Ravel among the simpler textures, prevalent slow tempos and introversion of the Mompou pieces. It is impossible to predict in what direction Brocal’s gifts will lead him but I urge you not to miss the opportunity to hear this singular talent. "
" There can be no doubt, as indicated by Julien Brocal’s winning of the ‘Newcomer’ prize at this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards, that here we have a pianist of exceptional talents. His fingers are up to anything, ‘Alborada del gracioso’ included, and he has an unusually acute perception of the right balance of a chord, depending on its place in the discourse – whether it’s a neutral sound or one that impels the music forward. Ravel may not have been the world’s greatest pianist, but we’re told that in ‘La vallée des cloches’ he had an uncanny knack of giving each bell a different sonority – as Brocal does here; and he phrases the tune with exquisite sensitivity. "
BBC Music Magazine
Gramophone Editor's Choice
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