Sonatine (Ravel)

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Sonatine is a piano work written by Maurice Ravel. Although Ravel wrote in his autobiography that he wrote the Sonatine after his piano suite Miroirs, it seems to have been written between 1903 and 1905.[1] He most likely referred to the dates he finished both of the works.

Composition[edit]

Ravel wrote the first movement of the Sonatine for a competition sponsored by the Weekly Critical Review magazine after being encouraged by a close friend who was a contributor to that publication. The competition requirement was the composition of the first movement of a piano sonatina no longer than 75 bars,[2] with the prize being 100 francs.

In 1941 the publication Music & Letters printed the article When Ravel Composed to Order by Michel Dimitri Calvocoressi. Calvocoressi discussed how he supposedly encouraged Ravel to write the piece in response to a competition posted in the Paris Weekly Critical Review. Peter Jost of Henle found the original article in the Review published in three March 1903 editions. The original manuscript that Ravel submitted had the text ‘par Verla’ written and struck out, replaced with ‘par Maurice Ravel’. Ravel submitted the piece under a pseudonym and chose an anagram of his name. [3]

The Sonatine was first performed fully in Lyon on March 10, 1906 by Paule de Lestang.[4] Shortly afterwards the piece received a Paris premiere, where it was played by Gabriel Grovlez. [5] The work was dedicated to Ida and Cipa Godebski; he later dedicated his Ma mère l'oye suite to their children.

Structure[edit]

The piece is in three movements:

  • I. Modéré ("moderate")
  • II. Mouvement de menuet ("Minuet movement")
  • III. Animé ("animated")

The leaping fifth melody of the first movement reappears in variations against different textures in the second and third movements. [6]

The first movement marked as Modéré-doux et espressif stays strictly in sonata form. The first theme repeats throughout in the keys of F sharp minor, D major and arrives at B minor for the finale. The final movement Animé nears virtuosic compositional style [4]

Keys[edit]

Both the first and third movements begin in F-sharp minor and end in F-sharp major. The middle movement is in D-flat major.

Reception[edit]

Reception for the Ravel's Sonatine has been mixed but generally favorable. Marcel Marnat wrote that the Sonatine captivates us from the very first measure in its depth,[1] adding that in its conciseness and radiance, it is one of Ravel's defining works. In contrast, Arbie Orenstein has written that while the Sonatine is pleasant enough, it does not compare to the later Miroirs.[1]

Arrangement[edit]

Carlos Salzedo transcribed Ravel's Sonatine for flute, harp and cello (or viola), titling the transcription Sonatine en Trio.

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]