- Gaspard de la nuit
Rquote|right|I wanted to make a
caricatureof romanticism. Perhaps it got the better of me. [cite book
Vlado Perlemuter, Hélène Jourdan-Morhange; trans. Frances Tanner; ed. Harold Taylor
title=Ravel according to Ravel
publisher=Kahn & Averill
pages=] page number|date=August 2008|
Maurice Ravel, on "Gaspard de la Nuit".
"Gaspard de la Nuit: Trois Poèmes pour Piano d'apres Aloysius Bertrand" is a piece for solo
pianoby Maurice Ravel. It has three movements, each based on a poem by Aloysius Bertrand. The work was premiered on January 9, 1909in Parisby Ricardo Viñes.
The piece is famous for its incredible difficulty, partly due to the fact that Ravel intended the Scarbo movement to be more difficult than Balakirev's "". Because of its technical difficulty and profound musical structure, it is popularly considered to be one of the most difficult solo piano pieces in the standard repertoire.
manuscriptcurrently resides in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centerof The University of Texas at Austin.
The name "Gaspard" is derived from its original Persian form, denoting "the man in charge of the royal treasures": "Gaspard of the Night or the treasurer of the night thus creates allusions to someone in charge of all that is jewel-like, dark, mysterious, perhaps even morose." [cite book
authorlink= Siglind Bruhn
title= Images and Ideas in Modern French Piano Music: the Extra-musical Subtext in Piano Works by Ravel, Debussy, and Messiaen
series= Aesthetics in music
location= Stuyvesant, NY
#"Ondine" is an oneiric tale of a water fairy singing to seduce the observer and accompany her to visit her kingdom deep at the bottom of the lake in the triangle of water, fire and earth. It is reminiscent of the tinkling of the water in a stream, woven with cascades. This movement was intended to describe the water sprite in Aloysius Bertrand's poem, attempting to lure men into her domain. This piece contains technical problems for the right hand such as wild cadenza figures, fast repetition of three-note chords, rapid chromatic runs and melodies of intervals played with one hand.
# "Le Gibet", an eerie work in which the observer wonders at the scene he's witnessing. "It is a bell tinting at the walls of a city under the horizon and the carcass of a hanged man reddened by the setting sun". This piece contains over 20 different styles and textures in terms of melody, however, the repeating B-flats (played 153 times) must remain in the same style, that is like sad tolling bells for a man being lynched in the distance.
#"Scarbo", a small fiend — half goblin, half ghost — making pirouettes, disappearing and scaring a person in his home. Scarbo could stand for "scarabée", a beetle. Its uneven flight, hitting and scratching against the panels of the bed, casting a growing shadow under the moonlight creates a nightmarish scene for the observer lying in his bed. With its repeated notes and two terrifying climaxes, this movement is the high-point of technical difficulty of the three movements. It gives an impression of the fiendish mischief committed by a ghostly imp during the night, fading in and out of vision while changing forms, which is portrayed in the difficult crescendos. The technical difficulties of the piece are wildly arpeggiated figures for both hands, frequent crossing of hands at large intervals, and fast moving melody lines made of chords.
* [http://cage.rug.ac.be/%7Edc/Literature/Gaspard/index.html Original text by Louis Bertrand] (in French)
* [http://www.russischeschule.com/Ravel.htm Poem Translations, Musical Background]
* [http://pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=168 Piano Society.com — Ravel — Gaspard de la nuit] — Includes free recordings of "Ondine" and "Scarbo" in MP3 format.
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