I had always thought everyone's performances of Ravel's "Pavanne"
made it an insipid useless piece, until I heard my roll of him playing
it. Ravel's playing of "Pavanne for a dead baby/princess" opened my
eyes. Upon hearing that roll I realized the dead princess or baby was
Chinese. The choppiness successfully describes a place and time in
China -- you can actually hear little stereotypical Chinamen running
around in the background.
Only Ravel plays it this way and he "was" the composer, after all,
and he knew what he had in mind when he wrote it. Still, I agree,
the way most pianists play it makes it an insipid useless piece.
D.L. Bullock St. Louis