Composers Datebook®

Ravel reviewed

Composers Datebook - Jan. 14, 2024
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Synopsis

On today’s date in 1932, an all-Maurice Ravel concert was given in Paris by the Lamoureux Orchestra at the Salle Erard. Ravel was on hand, conducting some of his works, including the premiere of his new Piano Concerto in G with pianist Marguerite Long the soloist.

The critics were enthusiastic about the music, but less so about Ravel’s conducting skills.

“Once again,” one wrote, “I wish to protest against the habit, more and more frequently indulged in, of attempting at all costs to bring a composer before the public in a part which he is incapable of filling. Monsieur Ravel is continually brought out as a pianist or as a conductor, whilst he cannot shine in either of these two specialties. ... His Pavane was unutterably slow, his Bolero dry and badly timed, and the accompaniment of the concerto lacked clarity and elasticity. ... But there can only be praise for the composer of all these delicate, subtle works, the orchestration of which abounds in amusing and profound inventions. ... The new concerto,” the review concludes, “is worthy of the other masterpieces we owe to Ravel.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) Piano Concerto in G; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano; Montréal Symphony; Charles Dutoit, cond. London 452 448

On This Day

Deaths

  • 1676 - Italian opera composer Pier Francesco Cavalli, age 73, in Venice;

  • 1949 - Spanish composer and pianist Joaquin Turina, age 66, in Madrid;

  • 1984 - German-born Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim (originally Frankenburger), age 86, in Tel Aviv;

Premieres

  • 1725 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 3 ("Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid" I) performed on the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25);

  • 1738 - Handel: opera "Faramondo" (Julian date: Jan. 3);

  • 1900 - Puccini: "Tosca," in Rome at the Teatro Constanzi;

  • 1914 - Stravinsky: "Three Japanese Lyrics," in Paris at the Salle Erard;

  • 1932 - Ravel: Piano Concerto in G, at the Salle Pleyel in Paris by the Lamoureux Orchestra conducted by the composer, with Marguerite Long as soloist;

  • 1934 - Gershwin: "I Got Rhythm" Variations for piano and orchestra, at Boston's Symphony Hall by the Leo Reisman Orchestra conducted by Charles Previn, with the composer as soloist;

  • 1955 - Villa-Lobos: Harp Concerto (with soloist Nicanor Zabaleta) & Sinfonia No. 8, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the composer conducting;

  • 1960 - Creston: Violin Concerto No. 1, in Detroit;

  • 1964 - Quincy Porter: Symphony No. 2, in Louisville, Kentucky;

  • 1965 - Dutilleux: "Cinq métaboles," in Cleveland;

  • 1994 - Michael Torke: Piano Concerto (with the composer as soloist) and Saxophone Concerto (with John Harle as soloist), at the Troy (N.Y.) Music Hall, with the Albany Symphony;

  • 1998 - Michael Torke: "Brick Symphony" for orchestra, by the San Francisco Symphony, Alasdair Neale conducting.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

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