Masterclass: Ravel’s second violin sonata

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Philippe Graffin explores how to create an orchestra of abstract colours and characters in the first movement of the French composer’s last chamber work

Although Ravel wrote this Sonata for his great friend and unrequited love, the French violinist Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, it was Enescu who gave its premiere. As a child, Yehudi Menuhin studied with Enescu in Paris, and he once told me that Ravel turned up unannounced to one of his lessons, to ask Enescu to play this new Violin Sonata to his publisher. Enescu sightread through it in front of Menuhin, then closed the music and played the whole piece again by heart!

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