Thursday, September 18, 2008

Maurice Ravel

Since we are at classical music, I might as well include my favourite piano concerto, Piano Concerto in G by Maurice Ravel. Piano was the first instrument which I had formal training in - from as young as 5 years old - even before I started school. That was also the beginning of my theoretical lessons on music and musical compositions. As usual, I used to always avoid the practice of studies with it - but they form a foundational training for playing all sorts of music. And from the training of the piano, I eventually explored many other instruments, including percussion, before mastering the flute and playing it in the orchestra.

Maurice Ravel is a French composer and pianist of impressionist and expressionist music. The reason I love this particular concerto is the richness, poignancy and subtle texture of communication between the other orchestral instruments with the piano solo. There are so many dialogues throughout this piece and it expands the tonal colours and variety in the sounds of this concerto. More importantly, this concerto transports one emotionally with its three movements: Allegramente, Adagio Assai and Presto - but, within each movement itself, you will feel as if you have travelled miles and miles away. Naturally, the second slow movement, Adagio Assai, is my favourite. I can never play the first or the third movements - the technical requirements are beyond me.

I am so tempted to post all three movements of this concerto - but I supposed a comparative performance of Adagio Assai (the slow second movement) will be able to present the diverse potential of this piece and the genius of Ravel.

The first post will be played by my favourite pianist, Martha Argerich whilst the second post of the same piece will be played by the famed Leonard Bernstein - who also happened to be conducting the orchestra whilst being a soloist. For consistency, I have chosen the Orchestre National de France, which brilliantly supports both soloists - though at different periods of their history. You will see the breadth of interpretation and expression by both great pianists. I normally close my eyes and put on my earplugs to hear this beautiful piece. So, enjoy ...

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