Alborada del Gracioso
Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society
Originally for piano (from the suite, Miroirs, written in 1905), this edition presents Alborada del Gracioso in a version for two flutes and piano, arranged by Robert Stallman.
The arrangement keeps Ravel’s piano writing at its centre, sometimes distributing some of the material into the flute, and sometimes adding doublings at higher octaves. The more lyrical slower sections are often heard in this version with both flutes playing in octaves, or with one player in a higher register than the original to fit within the flute’s tessitura. As such, the flutes add colour and weight to the pianistic basis of the work, influenced by Ravel’s later version for full orchestra.
The scores are well presented, with page turns carefully considered in the flute parts. The piece is not without its challenges; there are opportunities for fast triple tonguing, and creating a convincing sense of ensemble while maintaining flexibility and stylistic rubato requires a good deal of work from even experienced players. There are some fast intervallic leaps which also require a good deal of control of both the embouchure and the air speed. The piano part also retains many of the challenges presented in the original solo piano version, and forms an integral part of the ensemble.
This arrangement is likely to appeal to advanced players and Ravel-lovers, who will happily engage in the time taken to produce a convincing performance. A great addition to a duo recital programme.
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).