Koechlin: Les Heures Persanes (Naxos: 8.572473)
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A pupil of Massenet and Faure, the prolific French composer and teacher Charles Koechlin expanded traditional harmonies and compositional techniques and was much admired by his contemporaries. Les heures persanes was inspired by Vers Ispahan, Pierre Loti's diary of a journey through Persia. Oriental atmospheres are recreated through cycles of day and night, and in piano writing completely new for its time. This evocative piece salutes Koechlin's musical forebears as well as foreshadowing Messiaen through the"passionate and skilled" (The Sunday Times on 8.572570) advocacy of Ralph van Raat. Pianist and musicologist Ralph van Raat studied the piano with Ton Hartsuiker and Willem Brons at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and Musicology at the University of Amsterdam. He concluded both studies with distinction in 2002 and 2003. Van Raat also studied with Claude Helffer (Paris), Liisa Pohjola (Helsinki), Ursula Oppens at Chicago's Northwestern University and Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Musikhochschule in Cologne.
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