About this work
The autograph of "Sérénade grotesque" is entitled "Sérénade," but Ravel later added the more descriptive moniker and date of composition. Appropriately, the general mood of the serenade is one of grotesque irony, realized by rapid, leaping staccato passages in the left hand, and punctuated dissonances in the right. The opening measures, marked "pizzicatissimo" and "tres rude" foreshadow the guitar-like opening of "Alborada del gracioso," and the alternation of triads between the hands is common to both works. The work has several distinct sections, including a slower lyrical passage, marked "tres sentimental" -- a rare indication in Ravel's scores.
Ravel acknowledged the influence of Chabrier on the "Sérénade grotesque," and likely had in mind his "Bourrée fantasque" of 1891. Both works begin in duple meter with sharp, staccato passages, but soon diverge in structure and technique. Regardless of influence, its tone of quirkiness and grotesquerie would be more perfectly realized in "Scarbo."