Monday, June 27, 2011

Gaspard de la Nuit

My preferred classical music tends to be from the first half of the 20th century - relatively complex stuff. Among these is my favourite piece of piano music of all - the evocative "Gaspard de la Nuit" by Ravel, based on three satanic poems: Ondine, Le Gibet and Scarbo.

The music is virtuosic, one of the most difficult pieces ever written, and I keep an eye open for new renditions of note. Here's a performance of Scarbo by Valentina Lisitsa that is simply electrifying..


"I have heard him and seen him again and again, Scarbo the Dwarf. In the dead of night, when the moon was a silver mask on a dark wall, the stars a swarm of bees with stings of piercing light; heard his laugh in a dark corner, and the grate of his nails on the counterpane. I've seen him drop from the ceiling, twirl and roll across the floor like a spindle dropped by a dark enchantress at her wheel. Did I think he had vanished? No. He rose up between me and the moon, high and narrow as a Gothic steeple, a great bell swaying in his head. And then his form utterly changed—now blue and transparent as candlewax, his face as pale as the molten drippings—and into the dark he's gone..."

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