For so long, Ravel was regarded as a follower of Debussy, composing in his slipstream and benefitting from his impressionist innovations. However, Ravel was far more than an imitator; the originality, beauty and hedonistic mischievousness so common to his work have assured his place as one of the most popular composers France has ever produced.
An absolute master of orchestration, his version of Mussorgsky's _Pictures at an Exhibition_ is possibly the sole example of an original composition bettered by its arrangement. Ravel's ballets _Daphnis and Chloé_ and _Mother Goose_ contain further examples of the composer’s orchestral dexterity.
Ravel had a great interest in jazz, and was among the first composers to actively fuse the genre with western concert music. Both his piano concertos and, more famously, his _Boléro_ thrill the listener with thumping, insistent rhythms and colourful jazzy chords. Indeed, Gershwin, who is often credited as the primary 'crossover' composer, was one of Ravel's greatest admirers.
Ravel's piano works are among the most technically challenging in the repertoire. _Le Tombeau de Couperin_, _Miroirs_ and in particular, _Gaspard de la Nuit_, all present differing, original challenges to even the most agile pianist. The result is a body of work that evokes landscapes, moods and characters like few composers have managed before and since. _Une Barque sur l’océan_ from _Miroirs_, for example, is perhaps the most convincing representation of water ever composed for the instrument.
Bestselling Titles by Maurice Ravel