Raveling, Unraveling - In search of 'La Valse'

Raveling, Unraveling Ė In Search of La Valse was written for the Cory Band as their own-choice test piece for the 2016 European Brass Band Championships in Lille. The piece is something of an act of reverence and uses Ravelís orchestral jewel not as a basis for development or variation but as something of a structural undercurrent to an original piece, with an aim to produce a work which is organic rather than episodic in nature.

The work has its genesis in Sparkeís 2014 concert band work, The Unknown Journey, which was  commissioned by the Kwansei Gakuin University Symphony Band (Hisaatsu Kondo - conductor) to celebrate their 60th anniversary that year. This piece used the final bars of La Valse at its climax and in rearranging it for brass band, Sparke has added much more of the Ravel to extend and restructure it into a longer work, at the same time transforming the relationship between original and borrowed material.

The desire was to create a work which, after a fast introduction, develops through a series of interrelated themes and takes a single, inexorable journey through ever-increasing tempi to a whirlwind finish. The composerís view is that little in music does this better than La Valse and he uses various sections of this masterpiece, both manipulated and quoted verbatim - and including much of its stunning closing passages - to provide the overall geography of his new work. As the music progresses more of the Ravel appears, surfacing completely as the piece reaches its climax - a gesture of homage to the French master.