Ravel - Miscellaneous works
Menuet antique was written in 1895 and orchestrated by the composer in 1929. Ravel wrote the piece to pay tribute to Emmanuel Chabrier, who had kindly welcomed his early works and helped to establish his musical reputation. The piano version was first performed on April 18, 1898 by Ricardo Viñes, a long-time friend to whom the composer dedicated the composition. Viñes also gave the premieres of many of Ravel's other works. The orchestral version was first heard in public on January 11, 1930. The menuet form reappears in some of Ravel's later compositions, such as the central movement of the Sonatine and the fifth movement of Le Tombeau de Couperin.
Pavane pour une infante défunte was written in early 1899, and was given its first public performance by Ricardo Viñes on 5 April 1902. It was dedicated to the Princesse Edmond de Polignac (the former Winnaretta Singer who inherited the large fortune that her father had made from sewing machines), whose salon Ravel attended while a student, and later. The Pavane was orchestrated by Ravel in 1910 (and first performed at a Promenade concert in London conducted by Henry Wood in summer 1911). The work was immensely popular with the public, and much disparaged by other musicians and critics. Ravel made a recording of it on piano roll in 1922. It is interesting to hear his robust and angular performance, very different from the nostalgic and elegiac interpretations which are more familiar on modern recordings.
Sérénade grotesque was one of Ravel's earliest piano works, written around 1892-93, and dedicated to his friend and fellow-student Ricardo Viñes. Viñes seems to have given a first performance of the piece in April 1901, but the work was then neglected until the composer's centenary in 1975, when it was published and performed again. The autograph score carries only the title "Sérénade", and it has the initial marking "très rude". It is an unexpectedly modern-sounding piece, and in the space of its 3 or 4 minutes, it encompasses dissonant declamation and lyrical expansiveness, together with some jazz-like syncopated rhythms.
Prelude was composed 1913 as a sight-reading test for the Paris conservatoire. despite being well-known, it is still in use as such.