The Sureness and Lucidity of a Madman

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Relax. © Charles Thibo

Tension. At one moment deeply relaxed, anxious at another. Enjoying the day, apprehensive about tomorrow. In 1914 Maurice Ravel wrote his Piano Trio in A Minor (M. 67). He dedicated it to his counterpoint teacher André Gédalge, the trio was first performed in Paris in January 1915. He had been mulling the idea of a trio for years, but he was spurred by the tense political situation in the summer of 1914. War was in the air and Ravel wanted to enlist in the army.

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No to harmony, yes to melody

Safe haven. © Charles Thibo

A prayer or rather an incantation. Maurice Ravel on a Japan inspired rave? At the turn of the last century many French artists became infatuated with Japan’s traditional art – its painting, its music, its haiku literature. Between 1920 and 1922 Ravel wrote his Sonata for Violin and Cello, M. 73; he dedicated it to Claude Debussy, and I detect at least a hint of the Asian concept of minimalism and purity in this piece. Ravel wrote it in his safe haven “Le Belvédère”, located in Montfort l’Amaury, 50 km south-west of Paris, inspired every day by his Japanese garden.

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“Don’t Touch Anything You Have Written!”

Harmony. © Charles Thibo

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.

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Impressions or a souvenir from the sea

Serenity on water © Charles Thibo

 

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.

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