John M. Punt, tenor\r
Natalia Lauk, piano\r
Sergey Arutyunov, camera operator\r
Recorded at Goranson Hall at Idaho State University on April 4, 2015.\r
The son of a Swiss watchmaker, the music of Maurice Ravel stands as a monument in French music, not because of its volume\r
(23 works comprised of under 50 songs), but because of its sheer brilliance of pianistic orchestration and emphasis on precision and clarity. Ravel would often go years without publishing a new vocal work, carefully crafting every detail until he believed it to be perfect. The works presented this evening showcase the precision and pianistic orchestration of Ravels work. Ravel wrote seven songs, each based on a folk song from a different nation of Europe, maintaining the original melodic lines, but writing a new accompaniment line for each. In each song, the character of the piece lives in the accompaniment, supplementing the textures and the heart of each speaker. In the Spanish song, courage and a rallying cry to fellow bitter young men marching off to war; in the French, a love-struck pastoral character sings of his time in the meadow with a girl who has now forgotten him; in the Italian, the weeping song of the Venetian gondolier rings through the canals; and in the Hebrew song, the religious interrogation of a young man in his shifting, formative years by a father steeped in tradition can be heard in both the voice and piano parts until their characters merge with the same heart and sound. The Scottish, Flemish, and Russian songs are not presented this evening. Of the seven songs that Ravel submitted to a composition competition, only the aforementioned four songs won awards. Having felt that they were unworthy, Ravel destroyed the scores of the other three. Fortunately, a copy of the Scottish song escaped his hand and was premiered in 1975. Due to this, however, the work is not as popular as the original award winners and is not standardly performed with the rest of the set, though it is beautiful in its own right.