Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Pavane pour une infante défunte
(arranged for wind quintet by Alastair Wheeler)

Ravel's Pavane was composed in 1899, originally as a piano solo. It was instantly popular, and has remained so ever since, primarily in the composer's orchestral version of 1910 - one of many of his many piano works which he subsequently orchestrated. There are also many other arrangements of this Pavane for chamber ensembles; this particular arrangement has been written by Arethusa member Alastair Wheeler, specifically for our tour.

It is believed that the full title 'Pavane pour une infante defunte' (the most direct translation being 'Pavane for a Dead Princess'), has no great significance to the composition; that is, apart from the rather poignant melody, firstly heard in the horn, and accompanied by softly pulsating quavers.

A Pavane is a court dance from the 16th and 17th centuries, and is believed to be of Italian origin. This typical Renaissance dance is normally in simple quadruple time. A stylistic trait, typical of Ravel's Pavanes in particular, is that they tend to be slow and about Princesses too! A parallel can be drawn to the slow Pavane in Ravel's Mother Goose Suite - 'Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant' (Sleeping Beauty's Pavane). AJM

© 1998 The Arethusa Ensemble