« Best Classical Album » by the Gramophone Magazine

Julien Brocal, a young French composer and pianist born in Arles, has studied with Erik Berchot and Rena Shereshevskaya at the École Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot. Since 2013 he has worked closely with Maria João Pires and I fancy her beneficent influence is evident. Last year Brocal made his recording debut in works of Chopin with Rubicon, a company also making its debut (4/17). His new Rubicon CD pairs two composers with Basque connections, Mompou and Ravel.

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.

Author: Patrick Rucker

View the article : https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/mompou-ravel-reflections-brocal

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By Julien Brocal

“Poetry, spontaneity, restraint and a profound sense of the structure and awareness of sound are rare qualities with which he is gifted”. Maria-João Pires Julien trained under Erik Berchot at the Conservatoire National de Région de Marseille and under Rena Shereshevskaya at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, where he was unanimously awarded the prestigious performer diploma. Throughout his training Julien has benefited from the support of the Zaleski Foundation, Association Assophie and the Safran Foundation. He has been invited to appear on France Musique by Gaëlle le Gallic and to take part in several festivals in France. From his early childhood he has performed on stage in France and abroad. Julien was spotted in January 2013 by Maria-João Pires during an academy session at the Cité de la musique in Paris, and was subsequently invited to perfect his skills at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium.

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