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Sonata no.1 for piano and violin, known as “posthumous”

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Allegro moderato

Ravel did not deem it necessary to cite this first attempt at a sonata for piano and violin in the catalogue of his works. This single movement was completed in April 1897 and probably performed in the context of Gabriel Fauré’s composition classes at the Conservatory during the academic year 1897-1898 by Georges Enesco, accompanied by the composer on the piano. Preserved in the latter’s archives, the sonata was not published until 1975 for the celebrations of the artist’s centennial, under the slightly deceptive titlePosthumous Sonata. The 1897 Sonata, far from being a last burst of modernism proposed by Maurice Ravel from beyond the grave, instead reveals the pressure of the influence of the leading figures of French chamber music on a youth during his formation. So we understand the reasons that led the musician, once his career was established, to not publish its score: while he was increasingly endeavouring to assert his modernism and distance himself from the preceding generations, this Allegro moderato, inspired by the first movements of sonatas by César Franck and Gabriel Fauré, probably did not appear to him a worthy example of his creative genius for posterity. Compared to the only sonata for violin and piano that he had published (1927), this first attempt is the complete opposite of his later experiments: very unlike the plays on contrasts favoured in 1927, the work composed thirty years before struggles to achieve a balance between the two players.


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