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Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Ravel was born in the Basque region of France and much of his work shows a Spanish influence (this, together with his interest in jazz has produced some exceptional guitar transcriptions). He was a pupil of Faure and at first fell, like many contemporary composers, under Debussy's spell. However, his ascetic and intellectual bents produced from the start a refinement of composition and orchestration, and development of melody, all his own. Later music, including the Concerto, shows his love of the rhythmic features of jazz, and thoughtful incorporation of the innovations of modern music – strong dissonance, atonality etc.
With the Adagio the opening theme, which has a long line typical of Ravel, undergoes a series of variations. In waltz time (this feel must be kept up for the intent of the piece to be brought out) over an implacable bass the music marches on with hypnotic effect to the coda, a final gem of roving harmony that descends into quietude.