Today the finale of the project: Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F major. Around lunchtime I drive home. I have time. I take time to watch the fields I drive by once I have left the city. Fertile land. Less herbicides than in the past. Every year I have the impression the plots with wildflowers become more numerous. I like that. I love to see the golden grain, the red poppies, the blue cornflowers and the white chamomile. Harmony, serenity, beauty – it’s all there. And it’s in Ravel’s music.
Today, I will try something new: Over a week I will present three works from three different composers, recorded by one single ensemble and compiled on one single album. Three quartets, magnificently performed by the French Quatuor Ebène. The idea to group these posts sprang from the parallels between the pieces and the parallels between the pictures I matched to the posts. I discovered this album a year ago and immediately fell in love with all three quartets.
Hours full of pain – not exactly a selling argument! But this is the title the composer Gabriel Dupont gave a piano cycle he wrote in 1904: Les Heures Dolentes. If you listen to the recording by Stéphane Lemelin, you will at once hear that title is well deserved and that no one ever has described in a more beautiful way the slowly passing, monotonous hours when you try to recover from really bad news, these moments when you feel paralyzed, unable to speak, unable to move, when you stare in front of you aimlessly, absent-minded. This singular mood when all seems lost and life makes no sense anymore.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – gently the boat rocks and rolls in the bay, pushed by a light sea breeze, swayed by the rippling waves. While I did not intend to blog during my summer vacation1, a picture I shot a few days ago in Brittany reminded me of Maurice Ravel’s piano piece “Une barque sur l’océan” (A boat on the ocean). A beautiful piece Ravel wrote in two versions: one for the piano (1904/05) and a fully orchestrated one. The first one has been recorded by Pierre-Laurent Aimard the second one by the London Symphony Orchestra, two amazing productions.