Ravel is often regarded as one of France’s finest classical composers. Although he (and Debussy) rejected the label “impressionist,” his compositions during the early 20th century did define a shift in technique and approach, both for instrumental music and orchestral works.
Impressionism in music, which parallels impressionism in art, draws us in with suggestion and atmosphere, with moods and emotions, rather than by harmonic and melodic proposition and clear argument. Other music without words can serve this same function, but impressionistic piano music in particular has this ability because of its clarity and delicateness, which always emphasizes playfulness and joy.
Ravel – Le Tombeau de Couperin
Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier