Ravel – Pagina Celebri


Just half the tracks

A best of of Ravel, performed by Eugene Ormandy and Leonard Bernstein, at the head of their orchestras. I would like to pick out one piece in this collection in particular: a short piece written originally for piano under the strange title Pavane pour une infante défunte.

The title means Pavane for a dead princess, or it might be just a dead child. A pavane however is a Spanish dance that was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the infanta refers to the sons and daughters of a king in those regions. When he was asked about it, Ravel said he just liked the rhythm of the words, and claimed it had no other meaning.

The piano version was written by commission in 1899, this orchestral version was derived from it a little over a decade later. It was premiered in Manchester in 1911. Already in 1921 it was put on a record, probably because its length suited the limited space on a 78 rpm shellac record.

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