Classical Music | Piano Music

Maurice Ravel

Le Tombeau de Couperin  Play

Alon Goldstein Piano

Recorded on 06/01/2003, uploaded on 04/28/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, though harbingers of a new era in French classical music, nonetheless both paid homage in their own manner to the great tradition of French keyboardists of two centuries past. During 1914-17, Ravel composed his Le tombeau de Couperin. Though it is assumed the Couperin (a dynasty of musicians spanning some two centuries) alluded to is François Couperin “the Great,” Ravel himself stated that it was never his intention to pay tribute to the composer himself but the tradition of French Baroque keyboard music. Yet, this title is still appropriate as it is near impossible to separate the name Couperin from that grand tradition.

Besides the homage to tradition, Ravel’s purpose in composing the piece was also quite personal. Modeled after the Baroque keyboard suite, each of the work’s six movements is dedicated to memory of a friend of the composer that died during World War I (in the case of the fourth movement, two brothers that were childhood friends of Ravel). Despite this somber setting for the work, it manages to present itself in a lighthearted mood, so much so that Ravel was even criticized over its apparent lack of solemnity. To this accusation Ravel replied: “The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence.”

The premier of Le tombeau de Couperin was given on April 11, 1919 by pianist Marguerite Long, widow of the dedicatee of the work’s finale, Joseph de Marliave. That same year, Ravel orchestrated four of its movements, omitting the Fugue and Toccata. At the height of his powers, he masterfully concealed in this arrangement the work’s origin as piano piece. This version was premiered the following year and has become a favorite among the composer’s oeuvre.       Joseph DuBose


Listeners' Comments        (You have to be logged in to leave comments)

a Beautiful performance

Submitted by boomboom08060@g... on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 18:36. Report abuse

Would love a slightly slower tempo at times to more savor all the tonal colors (especially in the fugue).

Submitted by spazcyn on Thu, 04/21/2016 - 08:58. Report abuse