Recorded on 01/16/2014, uploaded on 01/16/2014
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
As the Jazz Age swept America and Europe during the Roaring 20s, many composers turned to this style of music born of African-American spirituals as a new means of expression, blending it with the elements of the Classical tradition and new experimental techniques alike. Of course the name George Gershwin is synonymous with the classical-jazz fusion, but in post-war France, America’s jazz influenced Paris’s young avant-garde composers, such as Maurice Ravel. Ravel was intrigued by the melodies and rhythms of jazz and when he visited America during the latter part of the decade, he soaked in the music he heard in Harlem and New Orleans. His interest and use of jazz in his own compositions spanned several works during this time, reaching its pinnacle in his two concerti for piano composed during 1929-31. Just prior to that pair of works and his trip to America, he composed another important jazz-influenced composition—the Sonata for violin and piano.
The Sonata’s first movement is thinly textured and contrasts three different melodic ideas. Ravel himself thought the violin and piano two instruments ill-suited for each other, and this is to some extent played out in the contrasting melodic ideas of the movement. Much of the movement is serene, even ethereal at times, and builds to a solitary climax before slowly evaporating away. Entitled “Blues,” the middle movement’s composition actually predates Ravel’s trip to America and his exposure to the music of Harlem and New Orleans. Alongside its noticeable jazz idioms, Ravel makes use in this movement of 20th century techniques such as bitonality. Lastly, the “Perpetuum mobile” finale incorporates themes from the preceding two movements. Joseph DuBose
Violin Sonata No. 2 Maurice Ravel
This recital explores the vernacular and folk musics that have inspired composers through the centuries. The first piece performed today shows Ravel’s interest in jazz which was expressed both in the harmonies and rhythms of several of his works during this period, including both the Piano Concerto and the Violin Sonata. The Sonata begins with a clear, lyrical, lilting Allegretto movement. The second movement of the work is entitled “Blues,” and it captures the rhythmic feel and melodic lines of the American Blues style. The last movement, Perpetuum mobile, features a constant, virtuoso whirlwind of notes from the violin, while the piano recalls passages and motifs from the first movement. Francesca Anderegg
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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