Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte

By Maurice Ravel

This short piece can perhaps best be described as an impressionist miniature jewel, more evocative of mood than anything else. Curiously, the title has no particular significance; Ravel used it because he liked the sound of it.

The Pavane opens with a soaring theme played by the French Horn, picked up later by the winds and finally the muted strings. A contrasting middle section introduced by the flute separates the main thematic material. Impressionist harmonies, muted strings and harp glissandi all combine to evoke shifting moods – first stately and somber, then urgent and lively, and (at the end) wistful and introspective.