Friday, October 21, 2011

Maurice Ravel: Complete Chronological Catalogue

See this Wikipedia page for a list of compositions by Maurice Ravel, another French impressionism master, melodist and orchestrator of the highest order. The compositions are arranged by the catalogue numbers which were assigned by the musicologist Marcel Marnat according to their dates of composition.

I compiled a playlist accordingly. Just like the Debussy playlist, it features a dazzling series of pianists: Gieseking, Michelangeli, Argerich, Pogorelich and, my favourite interpreter of Ravel's piano works: Abbey Simon. For Boléro I used Boulez's 1970s recording on Sony. Others may prefer Munch's famous 1956 recording on RCA-Victor Living Stereo, but it sounds too fast to me. According to Ravel, it runs about 17 minutes when played at correct tempo. Boulez brought out the fierce quality in this deceptively straightforward piece, and his timing is almost identical to Ravel's own. In playlists like this, one of my main aims is to offer a list of great recordings of a particular composer, I recommend serious listeners to listen to the full albums, not just the playlists themselves. 

Here's the Spotify playlist: Maurice Ravel: Complete Chronological Catalogue (183 tracks, total time: 13 hours) All tracks are available on Spotify UK and USA. Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. More on Spotify: a new Music and Arts album of historic recordings conducted, supervised or approved by the composer, and a Naxos Classical Explained audiobook on Boléro and Mother Goose.

Over the next few days or weeks I will be posting a series of French composer playlists, and (warning: shameless teaser follows) the last one will be the greatest French composer of all time.

By the way, to help new visitors browsing, I added a drop-down menu for the site. Please take a look, your feedback is much appreciated.


  1. Two wonderful gifts from you today--Ravel and Debussy. Not only the massive job of identifying, compiling, and organizing this work (from my own tiny efforts to do this, I have a glimmer now how hard this can be), but also providing your own viewpoints, selections, and links to related useful materials. Thank you!

  2. Thanks Susan. I enjoy most part of playlist making, since I need the playlists myself (or is it just an excuse for my pathological obsession with charts and lists?) The only laborious part is making my playlists US-friendly (re-editing them with a US Spotify account before publishing). I hope the music industry can remove meaningless obstacles like geographic restriction before it's too late.

    Yes I look forward to post about the greatest French composer myself:)

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! It's more appreciated than you know.

  4. Thanks for all your work! It's an esplendid gift for the music lovers.

  5. What is the Ravel piece that is just him holding out chords on the piano. It's considered futurist I believe and he was merely playing them for the beauty of the chords with no direction to the music.

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