27 March 2007

Ravel's G Major Concerto

This is from a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago:

On the first nice spring day I love to listen to Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, a personal favourite. I've observed this ritual virtually every year since 1973, when I was in my final year of high school, and I did so again today. This is one of two piano concertos created by the great French composer (1875-1937), the other being the single-movement Concerto for the Left Hand. Although they were written virtually simultaneously in 1929-31, their respective moods could hardly be more contrasting. Given that it was written for Paul Wittgenstein (philosopher Ludwig's brother), who had lost his right arm in the Great War, the Left Hand Concerto is sombre and dramatic.

By contrast, the G Major Concerto is lively and even daring. The first movement, Allegramente, opens with what sounds like the crack of a whip and the release of horses onto a parade ground. The middle movement, Adagio assai, is quiet and reflective, bearing some resemblance to Erik Satie's Gymnopédies. The final movement, Presto, is frenetic in its pace, with obvious jazz influence. This time the horses appear to be in a race, slowing not in the least even to show off for the crowds, as they did in the first movement.

Today is the first nice springlike day of the year in Hamilton. So here are the three movements below, in a wonderful interpretation by Argentine pianist Martha Argerich:

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