No 1: Prélude: Allegretto moderato
No 2: Alla fuga: Allegro non troppo
No 3: Moto perpetuo
No 4: Bourrée: Molto allegro
No 5: Élégie: Poco adagio
No 6: Gigue: Presto
The Prélude, in G major, gently contrasts arpeggiated chords and sustained melodic fragments. The Alla fuga continues in the same key. Thankfully, its strutting subject is only taken up by one other voice, but the two attain a stretto on the final page and achieve quite a lot of contrast on their ‘flight’. The Moto perpetuo which follows is marked ‘softly and calmly, without speed and very evenly’. It would be easier to play faster—but therein lies the challenge! Its gentle ups and downs innocently explore different keys and registers, reaching a forte climax before evaporating. Then to the vigorous Bourrée with its middle section a forty-eight-bar G pedal point! The Élégie is decked in entirely different garb from the other five pieces. Its probing Romantic phrases contrast curiously with its surroundings. The second section does recall the opening Prélude with its arpeggiated chords, but there the connections end. It must have been this piece which Ravel found so helpful in 1929. It is quite lovely. The Gigue, though, provides a predictably presto conclusion, with occasional rhythmic displacements for spark and a witty descent at the end.
from notes by Piers Lane © 1998