Miroirs No.3, "Une barque sur l'océan"
In this masterclass, Michel Béroff is accompanied by Chinese student, Xinyao Lyu, who is interpreting a piece by Maurice Ravel, Une barque sur l'océan, from Miroirs, which Ravel composed between 1904 and 1906.
Professor Béroff proceeds to listen to Liu with attention, after which he mentions the importance of tempo and finding a rhythmic stability. There are a lot of tempos, he says, but none is better than the other, what matter is the consistency. He reminds his student of the waviness of the piece, how it is flowing like water, and how proper use of the pedals can help achieve good results. He insists on the lightness of the touch, both for left and right hand as well as footing, and most importantly, how to find the piece's accents, how long to play them and/or when to cut them short.
How to alternate listening to left hand, right hand while exercising,
How to control pedals and pay attention to lighter tones while releasing,
When to prolongate pedal use, according to annotations,
How much of an impact the flow of the piece should have on your rhythm.
Miroirs (French for "Mirrors") is a five-movement suite for solo piano written by French composer Maurice Ravel between 1904 and 1905. First performed by Ricardo Viñes in 1906, Miroirs contains five movements, each dedicated to a fellow member of the French avant-garde artist group Les Apaches.
The third movement, "Une barque sur l'océan" (in English "A Boat on the Ocean") was written for Paul Sordes, and it is the story of a boat as it sails upon the waves of the ocean. Arpeggiated sections and sweeping melodies imitate the flow of ocean currents. It is the longest piece of the set.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Michel Béroff’s feedback and comments.
He won, in 1967, the first prize at the first international Olivier Messiaen piano competition
Michel Beroff was born in France in 1950. After graduating from the Paris conservatoire in 1966, he won the following year the first prize at the first international Olivier Messiaen piano competition. He has been since considered one of the most outstanding interpreter of Messiaen’s music. He then went on to play with the most prestigious orchestras around the world under the direction of such conductors as Abbado, Barenboim, Bernstein, Boulez, Dohnanyi, Dorati, Dutoit, Eschenbach, Gielen, Inbal, Jochum, Leinsdorf, Masur, Ozawa, Previn, Rostropovitch, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennsted, Tilson-Thomas, Zinman. As a chamber music partner , he has been very active playing with Martha Argerich , Barbara Hendricks Jean- Philippe Collard, Augustin Dumay, Pierre Amoyal, Lynn Harrell.
As a conductor, Michel Beroff has been conducting the chamber orchestra de la Scala de Milano, the Russian state Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orchestre National de Lille, the Cannes chamber orchestra, the Berkeley symphony, the Montréal youth orchestra.
Professor Emeritus at the Paris Conservatoire, where he taught for 25 years, Michel Béroff is giving regular master classes in many countries, including Japan, China, USA, Italy, Germany and France.
Exclusive EMI artist for over 25 years, Michel Beroff has published more than 50 recordings ; among them the complete works for piano and orchestra from Liszt, Prokofieff and Stravinsky , conducted by Seiji Ozawa and Kurt Masur. For Deutsche Grammophon, he has recorded Ravel’s left hand concerto with the LSO and Claudio Abbado. His latest recordings include the complete piano music from Debussy. Michel Beroff has been awarded five times the “Grand Prix du Disque”.
As a publisher, he participated for Wiener Urtext , to a new edition of Debussy’s piano music. For the japanese network NHK, he realized, in 2006, a serie of fifteen master-classes on french music.
As a jury member, he has been serving in many important piano competitions, including Tchaikovsky, Van Cliburn, Leeds, Clara Haskil, Rubinstein, and Marguerite Long competitions, among others. Many of his students have won top prizes at international competitions ; the latest one is SeongJin CHO, who won the Chopin competition in Warsaw.
French composer Maurice Ravel was born in the French southwestern town of Ciboure in 1875. His parents moved to Paris shortly after his birth, and by age seven, Ravel began piano lessons. Five years later, at age twelve, he started composing. He was then admitted to the Conservatoire de Paris as a piano student, but was a very average student; he preferred composition. After graduating from the Conservatoire, he pursued his love for composition and was re-admitted to the prestigious musical institute, studying composition under Fauré.
In the 1900s, he adapted many of his piano compositions into orchestral works before WWI broke out in Europe. Ravel wanted to join, but was too old, and his health was not optimal. He nonetheless succeeded in being enlisted in 1915 as a lorry driver. The war changed him, like many soldiers who struggled to return to “normal” life. The 1920s were prolific for Ravel, as he composed many of his most famous pieces during that time. By the 1930s, he turned his attention to piano concertos.
Unfortunately, Ravel was in a traumatic taxi accident in 1932, which was not treated seriously, but seems to have precipitated an underlying cerebral condition. As his mental health deteriorated and the pain grew, he struggled to work and meet deadlines. In 1937, he had surgery to try and relieve some symptoms, but it only had temporary results, as he slipped into a coma soon after and died that same year at age 62.
Ravel's works list eighty-five works, including many incomplete or abandoned pieces. Among his most successful oeuvres are Boléro, Daphnis et Chloé, Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte, La Valse, Rhapsodie Espagnole, Gaspard de la nuit, Piano Concerto in G Major and Miroirs. He never married or had children and remained very private about his personal life, sparkling many rumors still unverified to this day. He is considered one of the most influential music figures of the 20th century, along with Debussy and Stravinsky.
Photo credit: BNF