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Author Topic: Ravel on Ravel  (Read 5788 times)
minimozart007
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« on: January 11, 2005, 09:26:22 PM »

What do you think of this quote:

"I hate to have my music interpreted: it suffices to merely play it."

                                                                   Maurice Ravel
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anda
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2005, 08:28:14 PM »

a true succesor for beethoven Smiley (he also hated pianists)
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2005, 02:02:32 AM »

Music can be played in so many ways, it sometimes disheartens a composer if they cannot exactly express in words and on their sheet music how they want a peice to be played. So when they hear what people do with it they get pissed. But i reckon personally the comment is silly, because the variation in sound peoples expression causes makes music always a unique experience. Music would be so artificial if it was only played on way.
I guess Ravel is annoyed with over exaggeration of dynamics and mucking around with his tempos too much.
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Sketchee
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2005, 07:23:30 PM »

Ravel was very specific (and therefore critical) about the way his pieces were played.  A lot of the time when interpreting pianists do ignore the written markings — often not intentionally though.  The Cambridge Companion to Ravel has a lot of good information on his thoughts on music as well as that of his critics and other information that can help.  Amazon lets you search through the text of the book; you can get a large amount of information on him that way
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Sketchee
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Troldhaugen
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2005, 02:42:18 AM »

What Ravel meant was that he did not want his works to be over-interpreted (not too much emotion involved). I belive this quote was specifically targeted for his beloved work, Pavane Pour une Infante defunte. Is this why he orchestrated the piece soon? 
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minimozart007
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2005, 02:44:21 AM »

You are correct, sir.  What he truly said of the
Pavane to a young pianist was,

"This is a Pavane for a dead princess, not
a dead Pavane for a Princess!"
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minimozart007
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2005, 02:44:57 AM »

You are correct, sir.  What he truly said of the
Pavane to a young pianist was,

"This is a Pavane for a dead princess, not
a dead Pavane for a Princess!"
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quasimodo
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2005, 01:38:19 PM »

The Pavane was orchestrated by Debussy, I think.
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minimozart007
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2005, 09:39:04 PM »

Actually
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minimozart007
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2005, 09:40:45 PM »

Sorry about that premature post.

What I meant to say was that Ravel himself orchestrated
the Pavane.
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quasimodo
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2005, 02:28:59 PM »

Yes minimozart you are right. SO I'm sorry for the wrong information.
My memory was deceiving me, actually Debussy orchestrated Satie's Gymnopedies...
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anda
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2005, 04:24:14 PM »

actually, i heard ravel playing his works (don't ask me which, it was so long ago, i don't remember) and disliked it just about as much as i hate debussy playing debussy - it's as if they hated their own works!
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DarkWind
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2005, 05:51:13 AM »

Well, this quote, in all actuality, came from the time where people played nothing but Beethoven Sonatas. Beethoven Sonatas here, Beethoven Sonatas there. So, few pianists were actually playing anything else of importance, and when they did so, they did poorly. So this quote is in aim to the pianists of his time, telling them to not even make an attempt at a terrible interpretation, but just stick to the precise, note perfect markings that Ravel left on his works. Also, Ravel, of course, orchestrated his own Pavane. He also orchestrated Debussy's Tarantelle Styrienne for orchestra, and his Prelude apres le midi d'un faune for piano. The only arrangement for orchestra of a work Ravel wrote that he did not orchestrate himself is the Grainger orchestration of La vallee de cloches from Miroirs. Ravel orchestrated just about all his works, and kept on orchestrating even until the time where he couldn't even write anymore, and dictated instructions to his friends who tried to keep up. The only works Ravel did not orchestrate were either chamber works, or note-crazy piano works. By the way, I heard a CD of, "supposedly" Ravel playing Ravel. I'm not 100% sure of its legitimacy, but if it was correct, I'd have to say Ravel is the only pianist who has played his Toccata to my exact demands, and to know that Ravel plays it exactly how I want it to be played pleases me. Smiley
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will
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2005, 08:35:40 AM »

By the way, I heard a CD of, "supposedly" Ravel playing Ravel. I'm not 100% sure of its legitimacy, but if it was correct, I'd have to say Ravel is the only pianist who has played his Toccata to my exact demands, and to know that Ravel plays it exactly how I want it to be played pleases me. Smiley

Hmmm.....I wonder if this is so. I can recall reading in some CD notes that Ravel had a very modest ability to play the piano and that he struggled to play some of his easier compositions such as Sonatine!
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DarkWind
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2005, 03:59:50 PM »

Actually, that is a misconception. Ravel was a rather accomplished pianist, and even considered becoming a pianist or a composer. Luckily he chose the latter. But the truth is, he played pieces like Chopin's 4th Ballade, and with a great deal of musicality, too! He won a piano performance competition at the conservatory.
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quasimodo
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2005, 07:06:10 AM »

perhaps, did he have some difficulties to play in his late years because of his ilness ?
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" On ne joue pas du piano avec deux mains : on joue avec dix doigts. Chaque doigt doit être une voix qui chante"

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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2005, 08:29:52 AM »

maybe he didn't want us to know how we should play his works Smiley
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quasimodo
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2005, 08:44:25 AM »

About composers playing their own works, it reminds me a recent interview of Hélène Grimaud who, talking about Rachmaninoff playing his sonta N°2, had this interesting point of view that the composers are not as respectful for their own works as anyone else would be so their own interpretations are not so reliable as to building an opinion on how a piece should be played.
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" On ne joue pas du piano avec deux mains : on joue avec dix doigts. Chaque doigt doit être une voix qui chante"

Samson François
Mayla
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« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2005, 04:18:23 PM »

.  
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DarkWind
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« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2005, 06:02:36 PM »

perhaps, did he have some difficulties to play in his late years because of his ilness ?

He did have some physical obstructions. However, even though he could not understand written language anymore, when someone played one of his pieces, he would perk up and acknowledge that it was one of his pieces. I believe he could still play somewhat.
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Sketchee
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« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2005, 08:35:58 PM »

Actually, that is a misconception. Ravel was a rather accomplished pianist, and even considered becoming a pianist or a composer. Luckily he chose the latter. But the truth is, he played pieces like Chopin's 4th Ballade, and with a great deal of musicality, too! He won a piano performance competition at the conservatory.

Ravel actually had a very successful tour of America as well.  After that great success, he planned on debuting his Concerto in G which was originally planned on being debuted by a friend of his and (according to the Cambridge Campanion to Ravel) he practiced Chopin and Liszt etudes in preparation.  He was a bit ill and the practice sessions exasterbated his fatigue.  So the Concerto was debuted by Marguerite Long as originally intended.  His letters to her reveal a lot about the history of the work.  Originally the concerto was supposed to be the Zazpiak Bat (six in one) as a dedication to his Basque heritage, but he decided ultimately (a decade later) instead to write a concerto that would show off his technical virtuosity.

Paul Wittgenstein for whom the left hand concerto was written was the one who publically stated that he didn't like Ravel as a pianist; he didn't like the left hand  concerto at first.  He later recanted his statement, but the rumor lives on.
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Sketchee
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DarkWind
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« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2005, 06:01:51 PM »

Wittgenstein supposedly sat down to study the piece and after a few months, he realized the true genius of the work. Sadly, the left hand concerto is a rather neglected work that is truly a work that deserves much more attention.
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anda
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« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2005, 06:55:51 PM »

i read that prokofiev 4th was also composed for wittgenstein - who returned it the composer saying he couldn't understand a thing out of this!
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ehpianist
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« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2005, 04:40:30 PM »

In my own experience playing composers' works for them (the ones still alive), except for a precious few who are perfectionists to the umpteenth degree (like Ravel or Ligeti), most have vague ideas of all the possibilities their compositions can have. 

Ravel was not among those with vague ideas. He was extremely specific and orderly in his scores, as he was in his life.

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galonia
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« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2005, 11:02:44 PM »

The first page of Carl Vine's Piano Sonata No. 1 states:

Quote
Please note:

Tempo markings throughout this score are not suggestions but indications of absolute speed.  Rubato should only be employed when directed, and then only sparingly.  Romantic interpretation of melodies, phrases and gestures should be avoided wherever possible.

 Shocked
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