The suite consists of five movements: Noctuelles (“Night Moths”), Oiseaux tristes (“Sad Birds”), Une barque sur l’océan (“A boat on the Ocean”), Alborada del gracioso (“The Gracioso’s Aubade”), La vallée des cloches (“The Valley of Bells”). Each movement is very demanding of the performer, requiring an extremely fluid technique, a strong variety & consideration of touch, and a close attention to form. Unlike Debussy, Ravel was more of a classicist. In his own words: “If I were called upon to do so, I would ask to be allowed to identify myself with the simple pronouncements made by Mozart.”
This movement, “A Boat on the Ocean,” was dedicated to impressionist painter Paul Sordes. It is a charming but impressive piece of music, beautiful in its depiction of a small boat undulating above the rhythmic waves of the ocean. Ravel seems to have the perfect mix of classical form, romantic expression, and impressionist texture. Performer: Canadian pianist André Laplante.