I don’t really care about the Gershwin influence displayed in French composer Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. I care about its incalculably beautiful slow second movement, adeptly structured, as well as the jazzy excitement of its other two movements. A resonant masterpiece, because of that second movement, it manages to out-Gershwin Gershwin.
Recently I heard Ravel’s 4-minute “Noctuelles” for the first time. The word means “night moths.” It is not, then, an abstract piece, it’s representational—and fascinatingly composed. A skittish piano becomes properly subdued but not without its flighty notes trying to break free. Then an abrupt ending occurs (it’s actually over). Night moths were never better served, unless it was by a chef.