Ravel Has Novelty, Always in Good Taste. The Golden Encyclopedia of Music by Norman Lloyd confirms my thoughts. His music is “rarely emotional.” It is as though he wrote waltzes, minuets or sonatas with amusement or affection. Lloyd brings out his contrast with Debussy:
- Debussy drew much of his inspiration from nature.
- Ravel received his creative impulses from dance.
The Background of Ravel
Ravel’s mother was a Basque. That defines a region located around the western end of the Pyrenees (the part shaded red). It is on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The Bay straddles parts of north-central Spain, and south-western France.
Part of his soul was Spanish. His masterpiece, Bolero, is an affirmation. Again, we see a prime example of his affinity for dance. Here’s my favorite story. I set it up by contrast to a story about John Cage. The theme for Bolero is only 8 bars long. Its treatment by variations with orchestra is 17 minutes long. But, it builds to one of the greatest climaxes ever. In his humble manner, Ravel called it: “17 minutes of orchestration without any music.” By contrast John Cage wrote a piece of music that he calls 4’33”. It refers to the time of actual silence. Not one tone is played. You can “hear” it on youtube.
My Upcoming French Piano Concert
I am planning a full piano concert of French piano music from the late 1800’s and early 19oo’s. My instructor, Mischa Kottler, asked me to do such the concert just before he passed away. He studied in Paris under Alfred Cortot in the 1920’s. Below is a sample of him playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz.
Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version) – YouTube (to be amazed beyond words, click on “youtube” words and watch). He studied it in Paris.
The entries of my own concert will include the following works:
- by Claude Debussy: Deux Arabesques, the entire Suite Bergamasque, Reverie. the Sarabande from Pour le Piano, Estampes, and La Cathedrale engloutie
- By Gabriel Faure: Pavane
- By Maurice Ravel: Sonatine
I will be arranging a date and place in the near future. It will be announced as an event on DSOworks.com. Below is a sample of the concert taken from from my upcoming Debussy CD. It is his Claire de Lune. from the Suite Bergamasque. Click on the title.