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'An incredible mix of styles': Louis Lortie on Ravel's G Major Piano Concerto

Robert Rowat

Every new album of piano music by Maurice Ravel eventually gets compared to Canadian pianist Louis Lortie's set, recorded for Chandos Records in the late 1980s. For reviewers and fans alike, Lortie has become the standard.

Of course, he plays a wide range of repertoire — Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, all beautifully — but there's something undeniable about the Lortie/Ravel synergy.

The Canadian pianist was in Brazil recently, playing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major with the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra and conductor Enrique Mazzolla. (He also played Liszt's complete Années de pèlerinage a few days earlier.) Between rehearsals, they sat down with Lortie for a conversation about Ravel in general, and this beloved piano concerto in particular.

Lortie shares his insight on Ravel's international style in this work, the challenges for soloist and orchestra, and the influence of Mozart.

The interview is interspersed with scenes from Sao Paulo and clips from the rehearsal. Watch below:

More to explore:

Jan Lisiecki's guide to Chopin

Angela Hewitt: 'It's time to do what I want'

Listen to CBC Music's Piano stream