Reviews

Pianist, Writer, Lecturer, Teacher

‘… deeply sensitive … illuminating … without equal … fluent use of language … ’

Roberts2

Paul Roberts is an exceptional musician, a fine and deeply sensitive pianist, teacher and an author of the greatest distinction. His books on Debussy and Ravel are quite simply the most outstanding and perceptive I have read. I felt privileged to review the Ravel book recently in the Gramophone magazine.
Bryce Morrison, London (September 2013)

The pianist I most enjoy listening to talk – as well as play – is Paul Roberts, whose lecture-concert on Ravel’s Miroirs illustrated the insights to be derived from his brilliant new book on Ravel.
Michael Church, International Piano (June 2013)

His sensitive approach to the sublime music of Debussy and Ravel, and his illuminating explanations of the relationship between the two composers and their music, were utterly fascinating. Roberts seems to give each piece precisely the perspective it wants, with particular emphasis on expressivity and clarity.. . . It was easily one of the best recitals I’ve been to this year, and I could have listened for another hour.
Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch (April 2012)

Paul Roberts’s master classes and public lectures immerse the listeners in a magical world of images and ideas .  . .  His communicative abilities, whether as performer, writer or teacher, are without equal.
Harold Gray, Portland Piano International (February 2014)

His beautiful and fluent use of language to describe music is at the level of the highest poetry and his sheer virtuoso piano playing and rich knowledge of music and teaching experience put together make him a distinguished existence in the world of classical music.
Noriko Ogawa, concert pianist, Japan and UK (February 2014)

Witnessing his enthusiasm and love of teaching both the professional musician as well as the amateur was one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had in music.
Alon Goldstein, concert pianist, United States (February 2014)

Reflections: The Piano Music of Maurice Ravel

‘ … glowing tribute … obligatory reading … a veritable master class … a gift to be cherished from a master performer … ’

ankl00Some years after Paul Roberts’s superb Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy comes Reflections. . . The richness and colour of his involvement makes this [new] book an endless source of reference and delight in terms of both scholarship and poetry. A mine of information, it is difficult to imagine a finer or more glowing tribute.
Bryce Morrison, Gramophone (December 2012)

Reflections is both a commentary on the nature and literary origins of Ravel’s piano masterpieces and, at the same time, an implicit biography; its discussion of the technical challenges and the aesthetic decisions required of those who play this music – pearls hard-won over a lifetime – will make it obligatory reading for every young virtuoso.
Michael Church, International Piano (June 2013)

Paul Roberts’ book, a sequel to his wonderful Images, is a veritable master class on Ravel’s mysterious sound world.
Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine (June 2012)

Reflections is a fascinating text for piano performers, teachers, and serious music lovers alike. A gleaming key to the mysterious and entrancing complexities of a great composer, Reflections is a gift to be cherished from a master performer.
Midwest Book Review, USA (May 2012)

It has been a fascinating journey reading your book, and I must say it’s not only a book about Ravel, but rather about the sources and states which are required in order to understand the transcendence of music.
Patrick Jovell interview, PianoStreet.com, Sweden (March 2013)

Debussy, a biography

‘ … excellent design … lavish illustrations … elegantly written … like a good novel … ’

DebussybiogthumbIn his quest to unravel [the enigma of Debussy’s life] Paul Roberts has aimed to win new insights into the music of which, as a concert pianist, he’s a distinguished interpreter. He has succeeded, distilling a lifetime’s reading, listening and thinking to create an intimate portrait that takes us nearer to the heart of that music than any biography before. . . With copious quotes from the composer’s letters and articles, Roberts charts the unstoppable evolution of [Debussy’s] subtly revolutionary art.’
Michael Church, Independent, London (2008)

Roberts’s previous Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy — a masterly, fascinating investigation of that repertoire’s relationship to art and literature — was a hard act to follow in terms of scholarship and sheer readability. However, this new biography loses nothing in comparison. Indeed they must be seen as companion volumes… Roberts brings Debussy vividly to life — as often as not, uncomfortably so. Excellent design … lavish illustrations … Roberts shows virtuosity in putting Debussy’s music as a whole in the context of the man. So well does Roberts capture the unconventionality of the man … that descriptions of the revolutionary nature of the music seem nothing but natural.’
Andrew Green, Classical Piano Magazine (2008)

Paul Roberts meets the challenges of both person and music with empathy and acumen. […] Generous quotations from letters and journalism support this elegantly written volume.
Roger Nichols, BBC Music Magazine (2008)

I’ve just finished reading his beautiful book; it’s like a good novel that I just couldn’t put down.
Harold Gray, Portland Piano International (2008)

Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy

‘… indispensible … superbly presented … insightful … profound …’

bookA complete picture of Debussy’s poetic world . . . one of the few indispensable books on music that I know.
Richard Goode, New York, 2014

I applaud his generously illustrated book, which is a significant contribution to our understanding of the literary and artistic influences on Debussy’s piano works. This is a task that few pianists would be up to.
Charles Timbrell Fanfare (USA)

A meaningful, superbly presented, in-depth analysis of the French piano music of artist and visionary Claude Debussy.
John Taylor, Midwest Book Review

An invaluable book for pianists and enthusiasts of French music in general.
Pamela Lidiard, Classical Music Magazine, London

Roberts’s views are insightful and profound – an indispensable book for music lovers and pianists.
Rick MacMillan Classical Music Magazine, Canada

Debussy Piano Music Volume 1

‘ … profound and intimate … space, concentration and fire … passion … superb … ’

vol1The most thoughtful preparation is apparent in every sound he makes, yet the music also flows, as if of its own accord. There seems little doubt that Paul Roberts’s version of the first book of Préludes is the most desirable modern recording currently available in the UK.
Adrian Jack, Classic CD Magazine, London (Four star recommendation)

From this disc it is clear that his relationship with the music is profound and intimate, spaciously realized with a seductive sense of line.
Michael White, Independent on Sunday, London

Space, concentration and fire take their turns in this fine start to a Debussy cycle. Roberts doesn’t play like an Englishman. He characterises directly and, at speed, fiercely. In slower music there is unhurried poise and fluidity: the Images sometimes lose any sense of forward movement, but in the Préludes, he lets the music go with some passion – the sunken cathedral soars up like a Massenet processional. Mellow Bösendorfer tone suits the style.
Robert Maycock BBC Music Magazine

After Dominique Merlet’s idiomatic Debussy one hardly expects to hear another superb performance on CD. Paul Roberts’ s record is a must for every lover of Debussy’s music.
Peter Feuchtwanger, Journal of the European Piano Teachers Association

He makes a good impression on this disc, particularly in the extroverted pieces. And ‘La cathédrale engloutie’ is exceptionally well planned and executed, making it one of the best versions I know. [Hear Paul Roberts play ‘La cathédrale engloutie’]  ‘Et la lune’ shows this pianist’s tonal sensitivity and musical empathy.
Charles Timbrell, Fanfare, USA

The CD includes wonderfully evocative performances of Images II, Estampes and Préludes Book 1, readings which brilliantly corroborate the strongly held convictions that are argued so convincingly in his book.
Rick MacMillan, Classical Music Magazine Canada