Saturday, August 07, 2010

Maurice Ravel Sonatina 2nd movement:


Marcelle Meyer

A transfer from the LP, with the LP noise, but the playing is extraordinarily beautiful.

1. Modéré

2. Minuet 3. Vif

Monique Haas

Here is the entire Sonatina played by another great French pianist of that generation who knew the authentic tradition, first hand.

I've never been a great fan of Ravel's orchestral music and was a relatively late convert to his piano music. A lot of that might have been due to the abuse of his music by interpreters who either made it sound like an electric sewing machine or who went to the opposite extreme and slathered it with romantic schmaltz*. When you hear the authentic tradition you realize that the usual, dialectic between those poles simply doesn't apply. The clarity isn't colorless, the rhythm isn't either the what's typically taken to be rubato nor is it metronomic. Trying to describe it, I find I don't have the vocabulary. Which would be the point of doing it with music, after all.

* In his book The Compleat Conductor, Gunther Schuller documents the horrific distortion of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe by some of the most famous conductors of the past century. While he documents similar distortions practiced on other great composers' music, the mistreatment of that work (including tacking on of a corny ending that I'd expect Ravel would have been made sick to hear) is incredible.

Note: I have no idea why the word comes out in italics when you use the accents. I tried to fix it and couldn't figure it out.

[Anthony McCarthy]