Dinu Lipatti – Ravel – Alborada del gracioso

I suppose this must be fiendishly difficult, but can you play it for me, Irving?

I smiled so much the first time I heard it, and it is such a brilliant and lively interpretation by Dinu Lapatti. I love the mystery, the life, the voices – it reminds me of a dreamy dance with a lover in a ballroom with wooden floors and lots of lights – and living alone with cheese and books in Paris. It reminds me of the beginning of my year, and how I’ve changed, and I love the way Ravel named the themes as ‘Miroirs’ – the way the piece features the long drawn-out solos and the way the piece maintains its pace even in the tinkling quieter sections.

I’ve been playing it on repeat all night – and Ravel – together with little fancies like calling the judge in my criminal law essay Honourable Justice Irving Schroeder – has helped me get through my CPCM assignment, at least for the moment.

It has a little story which sounds so much like a little ballet interlude!

From Akira:

Miroirs was composed by Ravel in 1904-5, and it was dedicated to five of his friends. Each movement in the piece was intended to manifest the visual images and ambience invoked when certain people looked into the mirror. These people were the very ones which the various movements were individually dedicated to, and it is said that with further insight into the pieces, it can be surmised that the reflections are part of Ravel himself being projected on all of them.

Maurice Ravel, one of the composers on the forefront of the Impressionist movement of the early 20th centry, wrote this piano suite in 1904; it is intended for solo piano, although two pieces from it were later orchestrated. In order to understand the choice of title and the style of music found within the suite, one has to first look slightly closer at the musical movement of Impressionism.

Impressionistic art focuses on creating an “impression” of a scene. It hopes to capture the “aura” of the moment, and minute details aren’t as important. Likewise, Impressionistic music also focuses more on creating an “image” as opposed to concrete notes and melodies. In order to create a sense of “blur,” Impressionistic music often features what most people would describe as “dreamy” melodies, usually comprised of long, drawn-out sections of music played softly with heavy sustain pedal and long, rapid arpeggios and other 16th or 32nd note progressions, as well as frequent use of dissonance, glissandos, and ornaments in order to create a piece of music that is truly “blended together.” When listening to Impressionistic music, one should feel as if the notes are slurred together and almost indistinguishable, creating one long melodic continuum in which notes simply glide together; one should not be able to distinguish individual notes easily. As a result, most Impressionistic music is regarded as rather “light” and “freeform” as compared to other schools of music. Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are considered the great masters of the Impressionist School.”

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