Recorded on 08/22/2006, uploaded on 01/15/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Miroirs is Maurice Ravel's
first great large scale suite for piano, written in 1905 and premiered in Paris by Ricardo Viñes in 1906. Although Ravel hated the term "Impressionist"-as
did Debussy-Miroirs is a model of the impressionist style, including
ethereal harmonies and evocative titles which leave much to the
imagination. The composer said that the
suite "forms a collection of pieces for the piano which mark a considerable
change in my harmonic evolution."
Indeed, audiences had trouble following some of the movements at first,
but it has since become a staple of the piano repertoire.
I have chosen three movements to perform today: Noctuelles (Night Moths) contains
skittering figurations throughout which almost give the impression of a
continuous cadenza. These are contrasted
in the middle section by lyrical repose, but never quite leave the texture completely. Une barque sur l'océan (A Boat on the
Ocean) is in my opinion the most breathtaking of the cycle. It is a masterful wash of arpeggios and
harmonic progressions building to a graduated climax, and painting a clear
picture of a boat at sea. Alborada del gracioso (Morning
Song of the Jester) was certainly written with Ricardo Viñes' well-known
virtuosity in mind, as Ravel employs fiendishly difficult techniques (such as
repeated notes and double-note glissandi) in the outer sections. These are contrasted by a middle section that
employs the chanting techniques of the Spanish cante-hondo.
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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