Subscription preferences


Loading icon Loading...



Maurice Ravel ~ Pavane pour une infante défunte (1899 & 1910) ~ Arrangement of the Two Versions

6,746 views 1 year ago
≈ History ≈
~ Based on materials derived from
Grove Dictionary, Rovi & BBC ~
The Pavane was originally written by Ravel with a dedication to his patron, the Princesse de Polignac, in 1899 when he was studying at the Conservatoire de Paris under Fauré. It was published in 1900 but attracted little attention until the Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes (1) performed the piece on April 5, 1902. The work soon became well-known and popular enough for Ravel to produce an orchestral arrangement in 1910 which premiered on February 27, 1911, in Manchester. A common quote circulates in which the composer coyly remarks that the rather macabre title - "To a deceased princess" - "has nothing to do with the composition. I simply liked the sound of those words", along with his consent that the Pavane should be interpreted as "an evocation of a dance that a little princess might, in former times, have danced at the Spanish court".
(1): Viñes also premiered "Menuet antique", "Jeux d'eau",
"Miroirs" and "Gaspard de la nuit", all by Ravel.

≈ Music ≈
Ravel later developed a rather poor opinion of the piece, even writing in 1912: "I perceive its faults very clearly -- the glaring influence of Chabrier and the rather poor form". The latter comment is directed at the fairly conservative ABACA rondo form of the Pavane which is followed to a hilt and without any structural variations. However, apart from the somewhat muddled, in my opinion, final measures of the 1899 version, the Pavane does not deserve any criticism in either of its forms. In the present case, I attempted a synthesis of the 1899 and 1910 versions my task happily being aided by the close tempos followed by the highlighted renditions. Thus, there are several transitions between the original and the arrangement, hopefully, done as seamlessly as possible. I must also admit to having a preference for the orchestral version which, is very much the key player here, for I find it to be of richer dimensions by virtue of its evocative orchestration, though I do include several markings which appear solely in the 1899 version. In both cases, the Pavane's principal melody (A section), an enchanting and, at the same time, faintly tearful lament consisting of two extended ornamental phrases which, in the 1910 version, are initially relegated to two horns supported by a steady eight note pulse in the lower strings with a brief echo of the second part of the theme in the first violins (0:50), immediately imprints itself in one's mind (0:12-1:16). A sustained melancholy is present throughout which only adds to the striking beauty of the work. The contrasting B section, a graceful sequence of mirroring turns over a pizzicato accompaniment, in the arrangement is enriched by the complementary use of contrasting renditions of the same passage first by the winds (oboes/bassoons over clarinets (1:20)) and then by the strings (first violins/cellos over second violins/altos (absent here)), the final measures intoned by the entire orchestra (2:30). The repeat of the A section is naturally embellished, in the 1910 arrangement -- completely transformed by the relegation of the theme to the flutes/oboes (the second phrase -- flutes/clarinets (3:21)), the accompaniment -- to the lower strings (simplified for the second part), while the bassoons/first violins initially engage in a caressing bass line (2:41). The C section (3:55) features a stunning suspension of time, as it where, elegantly juxtaposing exposed lines for flutes/harp (4:42), horn (4:50), clarinets (5:02) over a wave-like motion in the strings, ultimately taken up by the entire orchestra (5:10). The final repeat of the A section, in a slightly predictable gesture, initially relegates the theme to the flutes (strikingly replaced by the clarinets for the second part of the first phrase)/violins, the eight note motive -- to the harps (5:38), though for the second section a wonderful combination of horns/first violins/altos and flutes/clarinets, respectively, is adopted (absent here). As previously stated, the original finish, incorporating a gradual piano crescendo, is not wholly satisfactory after the lyrical beauty that precedes it. Thankfully, the orchestral revision allows for a softer, though more conventional closing (6:50). Even though the name of the piece does seem to have been more a play on words, the ethereal character of the Pavane is a perfect reflection of its suggested title.

≈ Score ≈
The sets of sheet music for both the original
and the orchestrated versions of the Pavane
can be found on IMSLP ~

≈ Recording ≈
The 2001 Hyperion recording of the original version and the 1985 Deutsche Grammophon are highlighted with wonderfully pensive renditions of the Pavane by Angela Hewitt and Berliner Philharmoniker under Herbert von Karajan.

Hope you'll enjoy =). Show less
Read more

Hidden treasures & Familiar classics Play

The main focal point of this collection of historically important or simply musically enchanting pieces is to give the listener an opportunity, on one hand, to hear music that is, perhaps, less well-known than some of the more familiar material; and, on the other hand, to trace, if just a bit briefly, the development of what is termed "classical music" between the centuries.

Over time, the project has transformed into something a bit more ambitious than I originally intended. Firstly, though in the beginning I was not thinking about the possibility of presenting any pieces composed before the nineteenth century, I recently began straying outside of the romantic period to include rare material from some of Mozart's contemporaries and I hope to continue doing so, perhaps, even extending my attention to the realm of early music. Secondly, though at first I concentrated on opera, I've also been trying to include music from other genres, in particular, orchestral music and ballet. This is also one of the paths that I would want to pursue in the future. As of now, I am hoping to simply present a complete overview of nineteenth century music, i.e. at least one piece of music for every year of the period =D.

Lastly, I must say that I have been enjoying this little venture immensely and I do hope that you, the listener, will find it a winning collection =).

Baroque mementos Play

I admit to having a strong preference for the grandiose structures, orchestral complexity, melodic richness and dramatic weightiness that characterize the best of romantic music. However, I am also highly mindful of a simple notion: each musical period can offer a curious listener its individual treasures. Moreover, my first experiences in classical music were of a much earlier period than my channel might suggest. In fact, it was Handel's "Let the bright Seraphim" that first attracted me to the glories of 18th and 19th century music, and while my primary area of interest remains the 19th century, I am still listening to baroque music after all these years, having gradually expanded my horizons from Handelian masterpieces to the still undiscovered baroque jewels of Telemann. The basic premise of this playlist is, thus, to unite pieces from the period that I have found appealing in one way or another into a sequence of mementos which are deserving of continued interest. Hope you will enjoy this by no means exhaustive collection.

A complete version of Gluck's 'Orphee et Eurydice' (1774) Play

Though originally set to an Italian libretto, "Orfeo ed Euridice", Gluck's first step in his reform of the operatic form, owes much to the genre of French opera, particularly in its' extensive use of accompanied recitative and a general absence of vocal virtuosity. In fact, it is generally supposed that Gluck frankly took Rameau's "Castor et Pollux" as his model when he sat down to compose "Orfeo": indeed, the plot of the earlier work has much in common with that of "Orfeo". Therefore, it seems quite fitting that twelve years after the 1762 premiere of the original work, in 1774, Gluck presented his work to the Parisian public, readapting it, in the process. This reworking was given the title "Orphee et Eurydice" which is the version of this ever well-known piece that I want to present in this series of uploads.

The changes, though seemingly insignificant, are actually essential to the work's inner equilibrium. First off, the libretto is given a French translation which does shift some of the accents. Next, and more importantly, the work is greatly expanded, including the addition of a bravura, coloratura-filled aria for Orfeo at the close of Act 1, a more elaborate dance of the blessed spirits and an aria for Eurydice during the Elysium scene; the transformation of the B section of Eurydice's second aria into an intense duettino for the lovers; a penultimate terzet for all three characters and a large ballet for the end of the opera; thus, the work's original omissions are amended with the structure of the piece becoming more logical in the process. Thirdly, the orchestration is changed somewhat: for example, originally each verse of the strophic "Chiamo il mio ben cosi" is accompanied by different solo instruments - flute, horns and English horns - but in 1774 Gluck was required to change this orchestration to that of a single horn and two clarinets. Finally, and even more importantly, the transformation of the originally castrato-voiced Orfeo into the high tenor Orphee, including a more passionate reading than the original. As if that wasn't enough, the present recording, rather controversially, sets the pitch at A=403, a full tone below current pitch, which leads to a further transformation of the work which is especially evident in the baritonal lower notes that the tenor has to approach. All in all, a much different version from the original, and this is where its' interest lies.

Popular uploads Play

Rossini Play

to add this to Watch Later

Add to