From time to time Ravel took on private composition pupils, one of the earliest of whom was Maurice Delage, who had been turned on to music in 1902 by Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande
. In 1904, on the back of one of Delage’s exercises, Ravel penned a little Menuet
in C sharp minor, whether for his own amusement or Delage’s instruction, we don’t know. But this tiny piece shows as clearly as any other Ravel’s extraordinary ability to wring emotion out of the least imposing material; and how naturally the music rises to a climax and then falls to its final cadence. As a teacher, he was severe on what he called ‘babillage’ (prattling or waffling), and was no less vigilant on his own behalf.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2011