Maurice Ravel

Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in A minor ("Posthumous"), M. 12

    Description by James Reel

    Ravel's so-called "posthumous" sonata, rather than having been penned from beyond the grave, is of course an early work not published until 1975, long after the composer's death. Not to be confused with Ravel's much better known G major sonata from 30 years later, which melds blues with neo-Classicism, this compact, one-movement sonata in A minor from 1897 adheres to the classic exposition-development-recapitulation-coda sequence. It shows the strong influence of Fauré and Franck, yet also uses a harmonic and melodic language Ravel would later make his own in his Piano Trio and String Quartet. The first theme, heard without introduction, is sinuous and dreamy; the second theme, brought in after a short piano solo, is smoother, broader, and at times vaguely Oriental, while still almost passing for Fauré. The coda, after a condensed recapitulation, is particularly chromatic, as if it were plucked from Franck's more famous violin sonata.

    Throughout this work, Ravel constantly shifts meters and indulges in harmonic vagueness, helping place the sonata solidly in the French Impressionist style. Yet he also overly relies on triplets, allows his melody to descend frequently into repetition, and displays a competent but not entirely idiomatic knowledge of violin technique. Ravel obviously considered the work too flawed for publication, but it is nevertheless a beguiling piece that surely would have entered the standard repertory had Ravel tightened it up a few years after composing it.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 ECM
    2018 ECM B002812902
    2017 Nimbus Alliance NI 6344
    2017 Alpha 253
    2017 Simax Classics PSC 1354
    2016 BIS BIS 2284
    2015 Music & Arts MACD 1282
    2015 Maguelone MAG 111184
    2015 Chandos CHAN 10866X
    2015 Equilibrium EQ 131
    2014 Warner Classics 2564631220
    2013 Haenssler HAEN 98002
    2012 Praga / Praga Digitals PRDDSD 250286
    2012 Decca 4783725
    2012 Decca
    2011 Orange Mountain Music 7006
    2011 Hyperion CDA 67820
    2010 Decca 448 612-2DH
    2009 Decca 4781149
    2009 Decca
    2008 Lontano / Warner Classics 4696906
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 1951364
    2008 Blue Saphir 1044
    2008 ATMA Classique 2534
    2007 Koch Enternational Classics 7726
    2005 Centaur Records 2703
    2005 Avie 2059
    2004 EMI Classics
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 85708
    2004 Gallo 1073
    2004 Praga PR54016
    2003 ECM 000148502
    2002 Erato / Virgin 7243545492
    2001 SOMM 18
    2001 Capriccio Records 10895
    2000 Musicians Showcase 1012
    2000 Arabesque 6736
    1996 Arts Music 47106
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 66839
    1995 Chandos 9351
    1994 Praga 254016
    1994 Orfeo 108841
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 901364
    MusicMasters 60146
    Koch Discover International 920306
    Discover 920174
    Adda 581065
    Kontrapunkt 32174
    As Disc 5009