Sonatine (1905) Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Arranged for oboe and piano by David Walter
1. Modéré (moderate)
2. Mouvement de menuet (Minuet tempo)
3. Animé (animated)
Ravel opens each movement of his Sonatine with a two-note interval that establishes a precise mood with its color and rhythm.
The first movement, marked Modéré, opens with a tentative-sounding descending fourth – F# to C#. This is an emotionally laden interval for Ravel. For example, in his opera “L’enfant et les sortilêges” (“The child and the magic spells”), he sets the word “maman” to this interval as a frightened child cries out for his mother.
The second movement, a minuet, opens with a stable, decisive interval, a rising fifth. The minuet form hints of a magnificently costumed ball in a palace long forgotten, like Ravel’s earlier “Pavane for a Dead Princess.”
The final movement, marked Animé and then Agité, opens with the original notes of the first movement, but in reverse order: a rising fourth, C# to F#. It is a questing rising fourth, leaping forward. Between forays into mysterious realms, the melody rocks indecisively, its meter stretching into four- and five-note bar lengths. A second version of the two-note motto emerges, now back in its original shape as a falling fourth.