Angela Hewitt Plays Ravel

Many of Maurice Ravel’s shimmeringly colorful orchestral compositions were written originally for solo piano. One example is Le Tombeau de Couperin, which we explored in an earlier post. This six-movement suite, written between 1914 and 1917, pays homage to the elegant, dance-like keyboard music of François Couperin (1668–1733) and other baroque composers. Ravel dedicated each movement to the memory of a friend or relative who died fighting the First World War. But the music doesn’t sound particularly sombre. In fact, the exhilarating final bars explode with virtuosic triumph while shooting off volleys of glistening color. When critics pointed this out, Ravel said, “The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence.” Instead, amid the desolation of war, Le Tombeau de Couperin summons voices from the past- voices which are simultaneously joyful and lamenting.

Here is Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt’s performance at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. The movements are: Prélude, Fugue, Forlane (an Italian folk dance), Rigaudon (a vigorous French baroque dance in duple meter), Menuet, Toccata. If you’re used to the orchestral version, you may notice that new details emerge in this solo piano version. For example, listen to the harmonic surprise at the end of the Forlane. That amazingly expressive chord at 12:10 takes us to a new, mysterious place. Or listen to the intimacy of the Menuetwhich moves into mysterious, veiled territory only to re-emerge into the sunlight and culminate in a moment of otherworldly beauty.


  • Ravel: The Complete Solo Piano Music, Angela Hewitt (2002 recording on the Hyperion label) iTunes
  • Angela Hewitt’s complete discography iTunes

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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