Alice Ader’s first Debussy disc (Erato) won all the awards in the specialist press on its release twenty years ago and is still regarded as an unequalled benchmark. Now this unconventional pianist at last unveils her recording of the complete Ravel piano works. And what better moment could there be than Debussy Year to present these two hours or so of music in dialogue, en Miroirs as it were, with the œuvre of ‘Claude de France’? Ravel, the hot-blooded Swiss watchmaker, the discreet Lisztian, the mediocre pianist who made such extreme demands on his colleagues, the man of so many sublime paradoxes, deserves only the finest interpreters: those who take the time to explore his deepest recesses. Alice Ader, light-years away from the flashy gestures often encountered in this music, takes us to the very heart of one of the most secretive composers of his time.
Another Vingt regards from an unexpected source, and this time no mere stopgap. Alice Ader's interpretation has clearly been prepared with devotion and insight, and the recordings (made in the studios of Radio France over nine days) reflect similar dedication on the part of the Adda team. The resulting blend of clarity and warmth, with the piano in an excellent perspective, is greatly superior to Continuum's clear but noisy recording for Malcolm Troup; and Alice Ader's playing is on an altogether higher level than Troup's. If in the final analysis this is only one of the finest Vingt regards on record, that's mainly because Alice Ader does not have quite the power and panache to make the most tumultuous climaxes `vibrate'—the great shout of joy at the height of No. 10 is a case in point. But her finesse and agility are still to be treasured; if and when more towering versions appear (or are reissued) hers should still have a place of honour.
For the Alice Cooper fans who feel his output was spotty before and after the 1989 classic Trash on Epic, Brutal Planet is a cause to rejoice. It is a solid hard rock offering. Cooper is in great voice, and he sounds mean and spirited. The title track would be a blessing on radio today. It has great bottom, sizzling guitars, and wonderful backing vocalists. The most impressive thing about this album is Cooper's lyrics. "Sanctuary" could be Lou Reed meets Deep Purple in their heyday. Back in 1987 Cooper performed with an unruly band all over the map. It was very uncomfortable and a far cry from his heyday of "I'm 18" and "Under My Wheels": guitars too loud, and an artist obviously struggling with his personal demons.
Give him points for persistence: Alice Cooper just won't quit. He's seen it all from the bottom to the top – and done the trip more than once – but still continues on his merry-morbid way, punching out albums like a spry young'un. The first thing one has to say about The Eyes of Alice Cooper is thank Jehovah and all his witnesses that the Mascara'd One has grown out of his metal/industrial phase. That look just never took. Discs like Brutal Planet (2000) and the somewhat better Dragontown (2001) offered little to his legacy or his legion of fans – aside from nascent headbangers discovering the Coop for the first time. Eyes harks back to Alice's overly maligned early-'80s discs Special Forces and Flush the Fashion – albums that suffered by comparison with his landmark '70s releases but remain far more musically appealing than the aforementioned new-millennium fare.
Classical pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet has become a command performer much in demand on the world concert scene. He is known for his beautiful poetic musical interpretations, and his skill at evoking the atmospheric textures, colors, and moods of the music he plays…