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On demand: Ravel's Menuet antique and Une barque sur l'océan

KonserthusetPlayRecorded at Konserthuset Stockholm: Stora Salen, Stockholm, Sweden

With superb finesse and imagination, Maurice Ravel puts the orchestra’s entire potential for sound to use in these two short pieces. We can hear this ourselves, as French Nathalie Stutzmann leads the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in this concert video.

Ravel was an incredibly skilled pianist and early on he realised the possibilities of combining this with his sophisticated approach to orchestra handling. From the late 19th century, he regularly scored music for orchestra which he had originally composed for piano. In Menuet Antique, it is as if two sides of Ravel as an individual come together: the young and playfully inquisitive pianist and the mature artist.

One of Ravel’s best known and most popular pieces for piano is the suite Miroirs, Mirrors, dedicated to various members of the French group of artists known as Les Apaches. It consisted of composers, artists, writers and critics; Ravel was also a member. The group met regularly at the home of the music-loving artist Paul Sordes, to whom the third movement of the suite is dedicated: Une barque sur l’océan, A Boat on the Ocean.

We hear a journey across the open sea, presented as billowing, broken chords and hovering, melodic lines that seem to float above the swelling accompaniment. Before long, it all bursts as the ocean is whipped up in the entire register of the orchestra.

Filmed in May 2017.

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