The Solo Piano Version of Maurice Ravel's La Valse. Historical Context, Structure, Harmony, and Challenges for Interpretation in the Solo Piano Version
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The solo piano version of La Valse is well worthy of study and performance, but it has often been unjustly neglected in reviews of Ravel’s piano music. La Valse was originally written as a choreographic poem for a ballet performance. It was only later transcribed for two pianos and for solo piano. This book, therefore, discusses the thematic, harmonic, and rhythmic aspects in the piece in light of Ravel’s compositional principles. In the chain of waltzes, ten distinct melodic themes are identified. The melodic material, phrase structure, scales, modes, pedal point centers, tempo and rhythm are also examined. Finally, the book focuses on the challenges of performing the solo piano version and suggests how performers might resolve some pianistic and musical problems, such as three-staves writing and glissandi. The book should help the pianists practicing this amazing piece. In some extraordinarily difficult passages, the performer must show creativity and “transcribe” the piece once again. As soon as the technical and creative challenges are resolved, the pianist and the audience alike are rewarded with a beautiful and truly unforgettable piece.
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