Recorded on 12/29/2011, uploaded on 05/28/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
In 1905, Maurice Ravel, near the exact
midpoint of his life, wrote Miroirs. In that music, he looked back to
youthful and lasting piano successes, but looked ahead to the brilliant
Impressionist works that make his music riveting. Miroirs preceded
any of Debussy's epochal piano works, and claim attention for Ravel as pioneer,
innovator and even magician. He wrote at the time that these pieces "…mark a
rather considerable change in my harmonic evolution." He could also have
mentioned the new complexity of his rhythms and the extraordinary subtlety of
the virtuosic music he had written. Looking forward and backward is an image apt for Ravel. Miroirs is
a classical piece, a gloss on the austerity of the 18th century, yet its
expanded tonality colors the music with exotic shades, and the virtuosity it
demands sharply limits the number of pianists able to explore it. In other
works, he found inspiration in older music, yet he was early identified as a
flaming modernist. The five sections of Miroirs describe imagined scenes. The finale, La vallée des cloches ("Valley of the Bells") evokes a number of bells tolling in
their own tempos, pitches and weights, sometimes near, sometimes afar. In this
music, Ravel swiftly does away with traditional tonality without crossing into
the troubled paths of atonalism. He finds his own poetic path amid sparkling
and shimmering colors. This section was dedicated to Maurice Delage, a French composer and pianist.
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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