Menuet sur le nom d’HAYDN for flute nonet
A miniature masterpiece which displays all the harmonic and inventive genius of the composer, pre-dating by some 50 years cool pianistic jazz from the likes of Bill Evans.
To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Haydn’s death in 1909, a commission by the Revue musicale mensuelle de la Société Internationale de Musique was offered to six illustrious composers: Ravel, Debussy, d’Indy, Dukas, Hahn and Widor.
They were required to write a piano piece using Haydn’s musically coded name as the subject:
H = B (in German notation)
A = A
Y* = D (*via the alphabet in repeating groups of seven)
D = D
N* = G
Ravel creatively reinvents the motif with inversion, transposition and in retrograde; using stunning modulations and fruity chord progressions, this is a wonderful example of how Ravel may have improvised — bars 26 & 32 are particularly touching.