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 Post subject: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:52 pm 
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I have to admit Ravel is generally too difficult for me. But some of his easy pieces are not, and these are some of his most exquisite and touching. This will have to conclude today's recording spree :P

Ravel - Menuet sur le nom de Haydn (1:55)
Ravel - Prelude (1:31)

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:53 pm 
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Well played, and good of you to bring out some more accessible Ravel. (I share your misgivings about his most known pieces, they are simply not for me). I've never heard them so cannot comment much. I particularly liked the free flow of the prelude, it seems to come from deep inside you! For the Menuet I am less sure. It sounds really nice but not very Menuet-ish, more dance like qualities could perhaps be brought out by playing a bit lighter and with less frequent rubato. But what do I know, perhaps you play it the way it is supposed to sound!

Joachim


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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:48 pm 
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Nice playing. Re the rubato, I think Joachim is probably right. I have a vague memory of being told Ravel wasn't keen on excess rubato and tended to indicate it if he specifically wanted it. Vague because I should pay more attention in masterclasses :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:00 pm 
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I'm familiar with a lot of Ravel, but not these. The Prelude in particular is a really nice find. As far as "what Ravel wanted", I got over that a long time ago - I'm a late 20th century American pianist and I'll play like one, thank you - except for his dance forms. But I don't mind when other pianists do it. The menuet still sounded "French". Thanks again for bringing the Prelude to our attention; it's a really nice recording.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:16 pm 
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Thanks all. I know Ravel totally disliked swooning and romanticizing but I like to think he would not have minded my subtle rubato in the Menuet. I've always more perceived this as a study in counterpoint than as a dance. Not sure how this "should be played" either but it is pretty much the way I wanted it except that the second RH chord in bars 5, 6 and similar came out far too loud and laborious. This only occurred to me afterwards and I think I'll need to redo this because of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:10 am 
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Hi Chris,

You play these Ravel pieces very well. Very expressive.

Like you, I find Ravel's advanced piano works to be too daunting and forbidding. So I listen to the pros playing those works and let it go at that. Years ago I played all of the Ravel short character pieces except for the "Serenade grotesque" as he never wanted it to be published. I totally enjoyed learning those pieces as his idiom is so beautiful and unique. When I ran out of pieces, I found the Charlot arrangement of Ravel's "Ma Mere L'Oye" and loved learning that set too. Ravel liked to take his orchestra pieces and create solo piano transcriptions; or it was also the reverse process, that is, if he had a set of piano pieces, then he orchestrated them. (An exception was the "Toccata" from Le Tombeau de Couperin--how could any orchestra possibly play it?!) Being pressed for time, Ravel retained Charlot to help with the piano transcriptions. Ravel, being an extraordinary orchestrator, handled the orchestrations of the piano solos. "Ma Mere L'Oye" was a different task. At the time there existed the orchestration and a duo-piano transcription. So Charlot took the duo-piano score and reduced it to a very effective solo piano format. I think he did a wonderful job with it. I believe that Luis posted it here some time back. Anyway, if you run out of Ravel character pieces, I recommend that you take a look at this set too. Plus it's fun to play.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 8:01 pm 
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A belated thanks, David.

Yes I know the Charlot transcription of Ma Mere. It's very good indeed - almost matching the two-piano version which is in fact very sparsely scored. The piece itself is one of Ravel's finest.

I dislike all these orchestrations Ravel made of his piano pieces, and wonder if he had nothing better to do than re-scoring existing material. For some reason you nearly always hear these on the radio instead of the originals. For some reason it irritates me, as if orchestra is always better than piano.

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 6:18 am 
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Hi Chris,

I don't get it either. Ravel seemed to have a fixation of orchestrating piano pieces and making piano transcriptions from orchestrations. Some of them worked out well. I'm thinking of La Valse, Ma Mere L'Oye, and also the Pavane which are equally effective for either piano or orchestra. It seems that he ran out of time before being able to create many other pairs. Ravel is one of my favorites. He was a genius at composing piano music, and I believe that Ravel in his time took the crown from Rimsky-Korsakoff as being the best orchestrator in the music world. I think of Daphnis and Chloe, for example.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 9:30 pm 
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What I hold against Ravel is that he seems to have regarded orchestration as a means to an end. IMO he was an extremely skilled artisan who often relied more on his skills than on his inspiration. Which is not to deny the great importance and beauty of his piano (and other) works. If you want to compare with Rimsky-Korsakov, I think the latter's inspiration flowed more freely, and he was also more industrious whereas Ravel was a bit indolent. If only Rimsky had been more inclined to the piano, what riches would we have had...

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 4:36 am 
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Hi Chris,

In regards to inspiration, Ravel always worked with that stylistic duality. Sometimes he composed by framing his music in a cool classicism, while at other times he was unmistakably in the world of impressionism. It might be that had he served one rather than two masters, that singular focus might have moved him to even loftier heights of creativity. I recall reading that he was at a concert during his final illness and to a friend seated beside him bemoaned the fact that he had run out of time to do the many projects he still had in mind. It would have been great had he lived longer to fulfill his legacy, but I'm more than satisfied with all the music he left us of incredible beauty.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 3:24 pm 
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Ravel is the kind of composer who keeps reminding the listener about the extreme importance of harmonic texture in music. Even his short works are evident of this. David's comment on the composer's background is so accurate and comprehensive, I wouldn't dare to add a single word.

What impresses me though is your deep sense of understanding of the harmonic fabric in these pieces, Chris. Maybe it's because I haven't heard you play this kind before(?).
Anyway, congratulations are in order about these recordings. Very mature and confident playing throughout. Would I be far off to suppose that playing Bach helps?


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 Post subject: Re: Ravel - Menuet and Prelude
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 3:45 pm 
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Thanks Pantelis, even though I feel I need to redo the Menuet because of some ugly accents.

Yes of course playing Bach helps ! Everything gets easier after playing tons of Bach. Except, paradoxically, Bach's music itself. Whereas I used to think I did pretty well with it, it often drives me to desperation now, getting more elusive the deeper I dig into it.

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