Why Ravel stopped composing for the piano, no one knows. Maybe the store of new ideas and techniques simply ran dry. Filling the void more than adequately is the piano solo version of his ballet La valse
, completed in 1920. As with Daphnis and Chloé
, this piano score was originally intended merely for the rehearsal pianist. But whereas the piano version of Daphnis
really forfeits too much of the ballet’s lush orchestral sound, in that of La valse
the piano’s essentially percussive nature adds to the score’s rhythmic drive, as the waltz’s seductive strains are wrenched apart and finally smashed. The result is a tour de force, worthy of Liszt at his most Mephistophelian.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011