Weekend Repertoire: Ravel's Prelude

I am excited to re-introduce my Weekend Repertoire feature here on the Teaching Studio! As pianists and teachers, shouldn't we always be discovering and re-discovering repertoire to teach our students and to broaden our knowledge of the piano works of great composers?

Today's piece: Prelude by Ravel, written in 1913
Level: Early Advanced
Teaches: expression, advanced phrasing techniques, crossing of hands
Listen: there are three recordings of this piece available to download or listen to at pianosociety.com

This week's piece I discovered just yesterday while sight reading through some wonderful pieces by Ravel. In fact, I would highly recommend this great collection of Ravel's piano pieces (which includes the Prelude as well as eleven other piano masterpieces). According to Hinson, they "represent some of Ravel's finest contributions to the pianist's art." I had never heard this short, simple prelude before but I immediately loved its simplicity, its beautiful haunting harmonies, and the interplay between the right and left hand lines.

Preview of music from everynote.com
Although very simple and relatively easy to learn, this 27-measure piece requires much use of expression, as well as great attention to detail in shaping the phrases and bringing out the melody, particularly when the hands cross over one another.

According to the notes by Hinson in my book, this piece was composed in 1913 as a sight-reading piece for the Paris Conservatory to use in their piano competitions. Hinson says this about the piece, "The Prelude involves some interlocking of the hands and contains a few unexpected harmonies. Its gentle lyricism, relaxed tempo and interesting inner voices affirm Ravel's gifts as a superb miniaturist."

In my studio I put a lot of emphasis on musicality and artistry, and I am so excited to use this piece with some of my more advanced students to teach advanced phrasing and expression. I hope you enjoy discovering this wonderful little piece!

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