Les grands vents venus d’outremer
was written just three months after the Histoires naturelles
premiere. The poem, by his friend Henri de Régnier, is so highly condensed and evokes such fleeting images that Ravel wisely generalizes the emotion. Almost undoubtedly Debussy had this song in mind when, in 1911, he stated that de Régnier’s poetry could not be set to music. Ravel, we may think, proved otherwise, but at the cost of unusual textural complication.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2009