Magazine article Strings

Fiery Ravel Showpiece Gets Welcomed Urtext Treatment

Magazine article Strings

Fiery Ravel Showpiece Gets Welcomed Urtext Treatment

Article excerpt


Bärenreiter edition of Tzigane' includes notes of the work's greatest supporter, Jelly d'Aranyi


Bärenreiter, euro17.50

Composer Maurice Ravel said of Tzigane, "I don't attempt to evoke Hungary, which I do not know. My Tzigane is not to Budapest what, among my other works, La Valse is to Vienna or La Rapsodie Espagnole to Spain - it is merely a piece for the violin."

In a nutshell, he used Hungarian Gypsy music only as an idiom through which to express virtuosity to the fullest effect.

To this end, Ravel explored the 19thcentury virtuoso repertoire of Sarasate, Paganini, Vieuxtemps, and Liszt. His Tzigane owes much to Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies in its free form. However, in its unique design and sonorities, Ravel went far beyond what had been achieved by his predecessors. His extraordinary innovation starts with a brilliant, passionate cadenza that takes up the first five minutes - almost half the length of the whole, with its famed 58 bars solely on the G string.

After a London recital in 1922 by Jelly d'Aranyi, when the Hungarian virtuoso played Ravel's violin sonata, the composer asked her to play Gypsy melodies in a session lasting into the early hours. There is no doubt this event gave rise to Tzigane. The London premiere was given from an unfinished manuscript, still a work in progress and assisted by the renowned lady violinist who had mastered the piece in the briefest possible time. …

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