Monday, June 06, 2005

Insane Ravel

I've been trying to learn Ravel's Miroirs, a suite of pieces for the piano. I've started working on the third piece in the set, "Une barque sur l'ocean" (A boat on the ocean). It's absolutely beautiful, but very difficult. Now, the technically difficult bits I can handle, though it will take some suffering and a lot of work - but to add insult to injury (literally - there's a painful glissando over black keys and an awkward figure in the right hand that threatens to give me tendinitis), Ravel actually writes in a note that doesn't exist on the piano! (The G# below the lowest A.) What is he, crazy?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, he just had a big concert grand. All you have to do is buy a B√∂sendorfer Imperial, which goes down to C below low A. It will only set you back around $140,000... 

Posted by zilch

6/07/2005 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea.. that's "all" I have to do... :)

It's interesting that in the age of Mozart and Beethoven, pianos kept getting bigger and bigger (in keyboard range), so composers kept expanding the range of their music. Which must have been a royal pain in the ass for pianists of the time. But the modern piano hasn't changed much  since about 1900, and almost reached its complete current range in 1820 (7 octaves). I wonder if Ravel, writing the Miroirs in 1905, really thought that the expanded bass range would become commonplace. Or if he was just trying to screw us over (something I wonder not just idly when attempting to play his devilishly difficult pieces). 

Posted by Andrew

6/07/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

A friend has advised me that his edition says you should just play the low G# as a low A - because who can tell the difference between a G# and an A at that range?

6/07/2005 08:09:00 PM  
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