Ravel Enters a Contest

While looking around online for suggestions on fingering the opening bars of the Ravel Sonatine for piano, I came upon a post in the blog run by the German publishing house Henle that describes how Ravel apparently composed the first movement in response to a contest announcement in the “Weekly Critical Review”:

So that’s why it’s in f-sharp minor. Via a link in the post, you can get a look at an online perusal score for Henle’s edition of the piece that includes Ravel’s fingerings, but they aren’t much help. Not only does the intertwining of the hands remain very awkward, but you can’t keep a finger legato with Ravel’s solution. The problem is in the second measure where the thumbs crash into each other, and the left thumb has to play above the right. Anybody have some suggestions for this?

Angela Hewitt plays the first movement here. She certainly has the fingering worked out.

2 thoughts on “Ravel Enters a Contest

    1. Thanks for this – I did come across this preface in my search for fingerings. Perhaps the most surprising part, not mentioned in other sources, is a composer preferring to accept a smaller amount of money than offered!
      I notice Dowling says he suggests redistributing the notes between the hands in a few spots. I should track down this Kalmus edition and see if one of the spots is the opening. Redistribution could help avoid the awkwardness, but it would make it more difficult to maintain the proper balance between the doubled melody and the inner tremolo voice.
      Dowling has a good bit of interesting material at his website, worth checking out.

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