Monday, August 23, 2010

Ravel's Jeux d'eau: a "newer" look at an old favorite

Anyone here considering playing Ravel’s Jeux d’eau in the near future? This piece has been an obsession for me, staying in the back of my mind for some time. I have played the Sonatine many times, and still have it under my fingers to a degree. I actually got Jeux d’eau to the point about ten years ago where I could "cover the notes" at a slow speed – then dropped it and moved on.  (The reader will soon learn that I have something I call "musical ADHD".)

On my last trip to Atlanta (and Hutchins and Rea Music) I decided to pick up a new copy and think about taking the piece back up. Even though I have the Alfred, Schirmer (edited by Rafael Joseffy), and a reprint of the original Demets edition at home (and probably a few others), I wanted to see if the new Peters Urtext (ed. Roger Nichols) had anything new to offer in the way of fingerings, etc. The Alfred edition is edited and fingered by Maurice Hinson, NOT Nancy Bricard who worked sheer miracles with Gaspard, Miroirs, and Le Tombeau de Couperin. Alfred ought to commission her to edit the entire Ravel oeuvre.

Alas, the Peters/Nichols Jeux d’eau was NOT fingered. Which to me was odd because my Sonatine in the same edition is.

They had a Masters Music Publications edition in the files, and I was curious to see which edition they bootlegged this time – Schirmer? Demets? I presume you all are familiar with their editions – usually reprints of public-domain editions of the standards, similar to what Kalmus (later handled by Belwin-Mills) sold for years. Actually, the piano-score division of Edwin Kalmus evolved into Masters.  I have a Masters edition of Le Tombeau de Couperin, and it is a reprint of the original Durand.

No reprint here. This is a new edition, edited and fingered by Richard Dowling. There are two pages of "program notes" and the music is NEWLY ENGRAVED, (appears to be done with a computer music-notation program) with generous fingering and some of the most ingenious hand redistributions that one can imagine! Page turns are convenient, the score is clear and easy to read, and his suggestions make the piece so much easier to play.

I am considering committing myself to finally finish what I started with this piece, and encourage anyone out there who wants to add this to their repertoire to check out this edition, no matter how many other ones you own.  This edition, as it stands, is a master lesson on the piece.

Maurice Ravel: Jeux d’eau
Edited by Richard Dowling
Masters Music Publications M3783

Although this was originally posted to the Yahoo! group ThePiano in 2006, I had the urge to share it here, as I feel that this edition is useful for teacher and performer alike, and merits attention.


  1. Thank you! I found this blog when doing a search for fingering help for Jeux d'eau. It was comforting to know that there is hope! I've also wanted to learn this comfortably for a long time, but I've never been able to come up with fingerings that worked. I'll have to check out this new edition. I appreciate your taking the time to share your experience. You posted this almost 3 years ago; did it all work out?

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