RAVEL Maurice, Miroirs (extracts) Oiseaux tristes, Alborada del gracioso, Vallée des cloches

Maurice Ravel composed Miroirs in 1904–5, and each piece was dedicated to a fellow member of Les Apaches, the group of musical friends formed in 1903. They included the pianist Ricardo Viñes (‘Oiseaux tristes’), the critic Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi (‘Alborada del gracioso’) and the composer Maurice Delage (‘La vallée des cloches’). ‘Oiseaux triste’ is an evocation of a solitary bird, joined by others in due course. ‘Alborada del gracioso’ is a virtuoso piece, based on the rhythms and melodic shapes of an exciting Spanish folk dance. Like Debussy, Ravel heard the gamelan music at the 1889 Exposition universelle in Paris, and memories of those sounds may well have been in his mind when he composed ‘La vallée des cloches’, a piece in which different layers of bell sounds mingle in the most atmospheric way. 


Nigel Simeone


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