Tag Archives: Aloysius Bertrand

Historic musical bits: Martha Argerich, Ravel Jeux d’eau , great compositions/performances

Great Compositions/Performances: Pogorelich plays Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit (Ondine – Le Gibet – Scarbo)

Gaspard de la nuit: Trois poèmes pour piano d’après Aloysius Bertrand (1908)

I. Ondine [0:00]
II. Le Gibet [7:36]
III. Scarbo [14:28]

A work for solo piano by French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), based on poetry by the French proto-Symbolist Aloysius Bertrand (1807-1841). The first movement “Ondine” evokes the ethereal realm of the title water-fairy who lures hapless men into her magical lake. The second movement (“Le Gibet”) depicts a different vision: “It is a bell tinting at the walls of a city under the horizon and the carcass of a hanged man reddened by the setting sun.” The third movement “Scarbo” depicts a fiendish creature – perhaps a scarab beetle-like imp – scampering and twirling underneath the bed of the frightened observer. This movement is notorious for its incredible difficulty, since Ravel intended it to surpass Balakirev’s Islamey in technical terms.

The piece is performed by the famous Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelich.

The text of Bertrand’s poems with English translation is available here:


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