Dieter Ilg Trio: Ravel

Jazz's debt to impressionist France is clear, but in returning the favour the German bassist's trio don't add much interest

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Having tackled other composers from the classical catalogue, including Beethoven and Bach, German bassist Dieter Ilg turns his attention now to Maurice Ravel.

Ravel was a big enthusiast for ragtime and jazz. He travelled around Harlem with Gershwin in the 1920s to hear Duke Ellington, and that sense of exploration and risk-taking in music certainly shaped much of his own work, from the pulsating rhythm of Bolero through to his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.

Such is the distinctive, passionate and emotional power of Ravel’s work that it’s sometimes hard to hear what fresh insights Ilg brings to some of the interpretations on this album. Often fragmented and curious, the band’s real-time approach to taking the music where it wants to go is sometimes more successful than others.

For example, Bolero as performed here loses much of that sense of layered, dramatic build up and explosive finish that makes the original such a distinctive and joyful piece of music. The exquisite Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte lacks real connection with the story behind the music, and Le Jardin Feerique sounds a bit like something the Jacques Loussier Trio has got hold of.

The playing throughout is never anything less than first class, but for those of us who like our Ravel not mucked around with too much, this album may be a step too far.

Discography
Menuet Sur Ne Nom De Haydn; Quatuor; Trio; Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte; Alborada Del Gracioso; Bolero; Valse II; Adagio Assai; Sonatine I; Pavane De La Belle Au Bois Dormant; Le Jardin Féerique; Sonatine II; Valse VI.(65.55)
Ilg (b); Rainer Bohm (p); Patrice Heral (d).Ludwigsburg, November 26-27 2021.
ACT 9952-2