Maurice Ravel

Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn, for piano

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Maurice Ravel composed his diminutive Menuet sur la nom d'Haydn (1909) as part of celebrations to mark the centenerary of the Austrian master's death. The Menuet is a movement of a larger work to which many other Parisian notables, including Debussy, Dukas, and D'Indy, made similar contributions. Ravel had been interested in archaic musical forms and styles since his early student days at the Conservatoire -- his first published piece was the mock-Classical Menuet antique (1895) -- and his parodistic skills were considerable, as evidenced in his good-natured imitations of Chabrier and Borodin (1913).

    Still, when he sat down to compose his homage to Haydn, Ravel did not try to capture anything of the earlier composer's style beyond the vague superficial strokes. Instead, the Menuet is an agreeable mélange of old and new, a work somewhat Classical in gesture and form but distinctly Ravelian in harmony and narrative aesthetic.

    The Menuet is reasonably short, spanning only 54 bars in the space of about a minute and a half. Part of the game Ravel plays is to employ Haydn's own name as a five-note motif. By interpreting H as the Germanic spelling of B natural, A and D as their respective pitches, and Y and N as D and G, respectively (according to a scheme that assigns the rest of the alphabet to pitches in revolving groups of seven), Ravel arrives at the musical formula HAYDN = B-A-D-D-G. Most of the occurrences of this subject are marked in the score, including several that use either inversion (i.e. turned upside down) and/or retrograde motion (backwards). The Minuet is a good deal more chromatic, and more reliant on typically Ravelian seventh and ninth chords, than anything Haydn would have written; at the same time, its basic dance flow is not at all contrary to the Classical style. Features such as dense, sliding parallel sonorities and characteristic, unexpected harmonic shifts bear the unmistakable stamp of Ravel's own musical language.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Erato 082564602681
    2015 Honens 201502CD
    2015 Linn / Linn Records BKD 523
    2014 Steinway & Sons STNS 30029
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290871015
    2014 Haenssler / Hänssler 933180000000
    2013 Berlin Classics 0300537BC
    2013 EMI Classics
    2013 Piano Classics PCLD 0055
    2012 Fuga Libera FGL 592
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Decca 4783725
    2012 Decca
    2011 Labor Records LAB 7088
    2011 Hyperion CDA 67731
    2011 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290845051
    2010 BBC Music Magazine 324
    2010 Naxos 857807778
    2010 Documents / Membran 233017
    2010 Warner Classics
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94083
    2010 Lyrinx 2233
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926508
    2009 UT3 Records / Zebralution
    2008 Gramola 98831
    2008 Brilliant Classics 9020
    2008 Analekta 22010
    2008 Linn Records 315
    2007 Transart Live 143
    2007 Erato 284668
    2007 Koch Enternational Classics 7726
    2006 Delos 3250
    2006 Angelok 7753
    2006 Analekta / Fleurs de Lys 23038
    2006 Naxos 8 552125/6
    2005 Cascavelle 3075
    2005 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243586061
    2004 Naxos 8556789
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 85990
    2004 MDG 6041190
    2003 Chandos 10142
    2003 Bayer Records 100344/5
    2003 Scandinavian Classics 220509
    2003 Calliope 3824/5
    2003 Harmonia Mundi 901811/12
    2003 Accord 4760941
    2003 Fabula Classica 29902
    2002 Ivory Records IVCD72009
    2002 Hungaroton 32088/90
    2002 Musicians Showcase MS 1070
    2002 Naxos 8555798
    2002 Hyperion 67341/2
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74793
    2002 APR (Appian) 5593
    2002 Channel Classics 17502
    2001 Clarinet Classics 36
    2001 Arbiter ARBITER130
    2001 Tudor Records 777
    2001 Classica d'Oro 3020
    2001 Sony Music Distribution 5033892
    2000 Dorian DOR93194
    2000 Direct Source 6245
    2000 Simax 1112
    2000 Direct Source 6179
    2000 Arabesque 6736
    1999 CRD Records 3384
    1998 Erato / Virgin 7243561489
    1998 Sony Classical 63316
    1997 Arabesque 6695
    1996 London 448618
    1996 Koch Schwann 7358
    1996 Wergo 6014050
    1996 Nimbus 7713
    1994 Chandos 7004
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 53528
    1994 Decca / London 440836
    1994 Naxos 550683
    1993 Philips 438353
    1992 Chandos 8578
    1992 London 433515
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 190922
    1992 Vox 5012
    1992 Chandos 8647
    1992 Vox CDX25507
    1984 Hungaroton 12317
    Supraphon 111476
    Stephen Smith
    Theorema 121163
    Triton 15
    Ades 20391
    Erato 94826
    Fleurs de Lys 3038
    Solstice Records 122
    Manchester 128
    Channel Classics 17598
    Virgin Classics 62363
    Divox 25211