\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte (Read 24197 times)

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
« on: November 24, 2006, 04:19:30 AM »
In posting all of the Ravel character pieces previously, somehow I had overlooked the Pavane, so here it is.  The earlier postings were the Menuet Antique, Menuet sur le nom de Haydn, Prelude pour Piano, A la maniere de... Emmanuel Chabrier, and A la maniere de... Borodin. 

The Pavane was composed in 1899 and published by Eschig in 1900.  It is dedicated to the Princess E. de Polignac, an important patroness of the musical arts in Ravel's time.  The first performance was given by Ravel's friend, Ricardo Vines, on April 5, 1902 for the Societe Nationale de Musique at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.

Update: I deleted the CD cut (104 downloads) and replaced it with the original tape recording which has better fidelity.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

piano sheet music of Pavane pour une infante défunte


Offline rafant

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 301
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #1 on: November 27, 2006, 05:34:26 PM »
Superb! as all what I have heard from you. Only it needs some polishing here and there, mainly some arpeggios.
I see that we both like similar repertory, a lot of the pieces you have submitted here are in my list of pieces to learn. Congratulations.


Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #2 on: November 28, 2006, 01:10:06 AM »
Hi Rafant,

Thanks so much for the compliment on my playing of the Pavane!  A couple of the arpeggios you mention are difficult in the wide spread of the hand, so pose a challenge.  Had I stayed with the piece longer, I think I could have smoothed those out a little.  Thanks for mentioning that.  There are also two rhythm fluffs of which I was instantly aware while recording the piece.  They didn't do much damage to the overall rendition, so I let them go.  By the way, the edition I used was horrible--Edward B. Marks Music.  I even had to pencil in missing notes in the score!  For the other character pieces, I used Durand, Salabert, Bellwin Mills, etc. which were far superior.

By the way, Rafant, if you're as much of a Ravel freak as I am, I also posted "La vallee des cloches" from Miroirs as well as "Les entretiens de la Belle et la Bete" from Ma Mere L'Oye.  On the latter, I actually recorded the entire suite, but "Les entretiens" is my favorite.

If you want to see something astounding, go to UTube, and in the search enter Ravel.  Then go to Gaspard de la nuit as performed by Vlado Perlemuter and watch/listen to him play "Scarbo".  As you probably know, Perlemuter in his youth studied the entire Ravel repertoire with the composer himself.  In this video, Perlemuter is probably in his 90s, and chews gum during the entire performance nonstop, and no matter the degree of difficulty, he never misses a beat or raises an eyebrow or breaks a sweat.  When he's done though, you know he OWNS the piece.  I've heard great performances by Lorti, Ashkenazy, Geiseking, etc.  But watching the titanic struggle as Perlemuter ascend this pinnacle of the repertoire at so advanced an age is incredible.  At the end of it, he drops his head on top of the fallboard with a loud BONK!  In his lifetime, he must have been super cool.  His conservatory students must have loved working with him.  I think he died in 2002.

Thanks again for commenting!
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline wzkit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 227
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #3 on: December 02, 2006, 08:49:34 AM »
This is one of my favourite pieces, and having just listened to your recording I must say it is a very musical. The rubato and sense of phrasing and direction are well established and well executed. If I have a minor comment - and this is just a personal preference - it would be to widen the dynamic range further - but thatmight be just the piano. I would also place more emphasis on the melodic notes, and keep the accompaniment ethereal as far as the piano allows me to.  Lastly, is it my imagination, or is your Baldwin out of tune?

Here is my own recording of this piece, on a slightly out of tune Ibach as well. Our interpretations are very different, but I thought this might be useful for you to know where I'm coming from.

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,11691.0.html

Keep those recordings coming!

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #4 on: December 03, 2006, 12:54:28 AM »
Hi wzkit,

Thanks for listening to my recording and adding yours as well!  I also appreciate your compliment on my playing.  I enjoyed your recording a lot too--very poetic, very deeply felt.  Good voicing of chords, especially when thinking of them horizontally to etch the top melody.  Nice nuances too.   You definitely differentiate foreground from background at all times--more than me in playing this particular piece, although I do think my melody is always dominant throughout.  And if something harmonic intersperses with the melody, you do a fine job deemphasizing it.  The only point I would make is that I wish your tempo were just a tad faster.  Ravel used to make the point about the piece not sounding too funereal.   Your rendition doesn't approach that at all, but could just be a hair faster in my opinion.   At the time I was eager to get through all the Ravel character pieces, so in honesty, didn't spend sufficient time on the Pavane.  Had I done so, I could have brought more artistry to it and elevated it to a more polished performance, Im sure. 

On tuning, I live in northern New England.  (Where you have the "u" in favorites, I assume you live in Canada or the UK.)  Tuning in this part of the country is a nightmare!  New England weather changes in just minutes.  Summer features heavy humidity althernating with summer polar air masses.  During Winter relative humidy indoors can drop below 20, 40-60 being normal, loosening the pins in the pinblock.  With the return of warm weather, the pins actually go sharp again with the increasing humidity!   Many pianists in this region especially try to avoid spring and fall tunings to the extent possible, as those tunings turn out to be the least stable of all.  And the closer you are to the ocean, the worse it gets.

I believe too that the recording process played a role as well.  This is an analog recording on cassette tape, rather than digital through a soundcard into a pc.  Tape sometimes exhibits very minute wavering as it speeds up and slows.  That can affect apparent pitch too to the musical ear.   

Finally, on pianos I've always played Baldwin's and Steinways.  I think it's a bit easier to control dynamic range on a Steinway.  You can do it on the Baldwin, but have to work a little harder at it, especially at pp and ppp.     

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and your own rendition as well! 
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline wzkit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 227
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #5 on: December 03, 2006, 05:58:12 AM »
Hi Rachfan,
         I agree that my rendition is on the slow side, some might find it a little too romanticised or even sentimental! But that was my personal choice, to the extent that it reflected how I felt about the music. This recording was done 3 years ago. Nowadays, I might play it faster, depending on my mood.
         Regarding the voicing of the chords, I suppose that was made easier by the piano, which had a truly marvellous singing treble. That's a characteristic of good quality German pianos that I always appreciate. It helps somewhat that I have long fingers, but at the end of the day, it takes a very conscious mental effort to bring out those top notes very clearly and cleanly, and really etch the melodic phrase. Your Baldwin has a slightly thicker tonal profile, which might make it slightly more difficult to bring out the melody, I would think.
          By the way, I live in Singapore, halfway across the globe from you, and near the equator. Humidity levels here are >90% most of the year, and tuning stability is as much a problem as in your area. Ah well, these are the issues we piano players have to deal with all the time!

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #6 on: December 03, 2006, 07:07:37 PM »
Hi wzkit,

Even at the slower tempo, I still think your recording of the Pavane is excellent--very refined and lush to say the least.   And you're entitled to add a dash of romanticism, given the inherent nature of that piece.  I do likewise with Rachmaninoff's "Lilacs".  I've heard Rachmaninoff's own recording, and although he plays it impeccably, somehow it always sounds a little businesslike to me.  So in recording it myself, I couldn't resist giving it a more romantic flavor.  So, yes, I hear you.

You're being in Singapore, the Ibach definitely took me by surprise.  I usually associate the Asian piano market as being split between the perenial competition of Yamaha and Kawai (the newer Chinese pianos notwithstanding, although apparently they are improving).  An acquaintance of mine there once told me that it's somewhat difficult to find American and European brands in Singapore.  With the Ibach, you get a better sustaining tone for singing legato phrasing than you could achieve with Yamaha, which has a faster rate of tone decay.

You're right on the Baldwin tones sounding thicker (or more complex as I might say).  The European designs tend to favor the fundamental tone, while the American pianos such as the NY Steinway, the Baldwin and the Mason & Hamlin favor the complexities of the overtones and undertones.  To us it's a richer sound, but others, used to the purer fundamental tone, would disagree.  It's probably a matter of what one grows up with in the regional musical culture and the instruments available there.  This coming February my Baldwin will be rebuilt--new and different hammers and strings.  The sound will likely change, and hopefully it will be even better.

Yes, in Singapore, you would know first hand the challenges of keeping a piano in tune, as we do in my area of the world.   I sometimes envy pianists who don't have to contend with the climate issues!   
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline wzkit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 227
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #7 on: December 04, 2006, 09:46:39 AM »
Hi Rachfan,
           It is generally impossible to find  American brands in Singapore, though Baldwin had a presence years ago. European brands are however relatively commonplace, although the market is still overwhelmingly dominated by Yamaha and Kawai. I myself own a 6 foot Sauter Delta - comparable in many ways to the 7 foot Ibach you hear on the recording, with a more powerful bass, despite its length, but slightly less rich treble. I generally find voicing chords much easier on a good European piano than a Yamaha or Kawai, partly because of the good action, and partly because a better sustain in the treble. A common problems with European pianos in our climate is that they tend to be far more sensitive to temperature and humidity fluctuations, which in turn means higher maintainence. This is what accounts for their smaller market share, though the market by far recognizes their superior performance.
          Regarding your comments on Rachmaninoff's playing, I agree that it can sound business-like, though the technical perfection is something to marvel at. Another pianist I enjoy listening to is Mikhail Pletnev, again technically perfect, but with more interpretative quirks. Have you seen his video of the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini? It is on youtube here:

        For the Pavane, the ultimate Romanticized version for me is Cherkassky's, which is astounding not just for his freedom in applying rubato, but the astounding range of tonal colours he brings to the piano. His piano tone is just luminous - bright yet rich and warm at the same time. Amazing.

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #8 on: December 05, 2006, 12:51:31 AM »
Hi wzkit,

You know, now that you mention it I do seem to recall that I was told it was the American pianos that are scarce in Singapore.   And I can imagine how European pianos take a beating from the tropical climate there.  I believe, similarly, that Steinway generally advises buyers in the U.S. to buy NY pianos rather than the German Steinway's, as they both adapt far better to their native climates.

On Pletnev, I have heard some of his recordings and have always been impressed by his great mastery.  I think of his Tchaikovsky 1st piano concerto, which is excellent.  I think he is one of the very best.  I'll have to watch the video of Pletnev playing the Rach Rhapsody, probably tonight.  Thanks for posting that!  I'm coming to appreciate Volodos a lot too.  His piano transcriptions of the Rachmaninoff Songs and the Adante from the Cello & Piano Sonata is very well written.  He brings both virtuosity and poetry to his playing.

 

Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #9 on: June 17, 2007, 04:18:27 AM »
To conclude my running survey of the Ravel character pieces, I thought I'd bring back the Pavane pour une Infante defunte  for those who might have missed it before.  Here's a historical footnote: Apparently Ravel had a lifelong love/hate relationship with the Pavane.  I imagine that it was probably not unlike Rachmaninoff and his Prelude in C#m that he considered to be a ball and chain.  Ravel was probably surprised how well the Pavane caught on with the public, and perhaps was irritated that some of his piano works of greater merit were not as well known.  Very late in life he was at a recital with friends where the Pavane was on the program.  After it was played, he turned to his companions and in all seriousness said something like, "You know, that is the finest piece I ever wrote".  Hard to figure!  Ravel died in 1937.  Luckily he didn't live to hear the popular song The Lamp is Low published in 1939 based on the Pavane's theme.  Otherwise, he might have gone out and burned his score.   ;D  Comments welcome.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline schubertiad

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 223
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #10 on: June 17, 2007, 02:52:50 PM »
Do you two want to get a room or something  ;)
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” Leonard Bernstein

Offline wzkit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 227
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 03:16:45 PM »
Nice footnote on the Pavane. Thanks for posting!

Offline costicina

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1062
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #12 on: August 22, 2012, 06:33:16 PM »
Hi Rachfan,
How could I miss your performance of this piece, so dear to me since my first years of piano playing!!!!

As always, your interpretation is superlative: finely nuanced and so 'balanced' as Ravel requires. What I admire is your ability to catch the peculiar style of the somposer you're dealing with: your Scriabin is quintessentially 'scriabinesque',  your Ravel is unmistakeably Ravel...
::) I hope what I'm saying makes sense to you.
Anyway, bravo, and thank you so much for sharing!!!!

Offline rachfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3027
Re: Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante defunte
«Reply #13 on: August 25, 2012, 03:37:36 AM »
Hi Marg,

You must have found this recording far back in the archives! ;D  Although I posted it here in 2006, it's actually an analog recording that I made in 1990 while I was studying with my second teacher.

I believe I recorded all of Ravel's standalone character pieces, with one exception and that would be his "Serenade grotesque".  Ravel made it very clear that he never wanted that piece to be published even after his death, but Salabert Editions brazenly brought it out in 1974 against his stated wishes.  So out of respect for the composer (who is one of my favorites), I've never played a note of that piece.  I've recorded all the others though including this beautiful Pavane.  

Thanks for rescuing this lovely piece from the far back frontier of Piano Street, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much. I very much appreciate your words of praise, so thanks again!

David
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.