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Maurice Ravel

Piano Concerto in G Major (1931)

Ravel wrote his Piano Concerto in G Major "in the spirit of Mozart and Saint-Saëns" to be "gay and brilliant", like a divertimento, with Gallic exuberance in the outer movements. The orchestra is of chamber size.

The first movement has five themes, brilliant solos for trumpet, and three cadenzas including a thunderous one with the piano in its lower range. With the exception of two quiet interludes, it is lively, vivacious, and jazzy, reflecting the bustle of the United States that impressed Ravel on his tour. The influence of George Gershwin is such that one might mistake parts for his work. It is hard to believe that Ravel struggled with the slow movement, given its intimate Mozartean serenity and simplicity written in 20th century language with a touch of quiet jazz. The finale, influenced by Stravinsky, is a perpetual motion in the piano, with a carnival of orchestral sounds and effects full of innovation, insouciance, and wit. ~ Roger Hecht