I doubt there is a more comprehensive analysis out there of the life and work of Maurice Ravel, so it deserves five stars for that alone. The only thing is that it is a bit hard going in places - at least for someone like me who has a great interest in the man and his music, but who doesn't have a deep knowledge of music theory. So it needs to be approached as if you're reading an academic work, not a best-selling biography. That's not a criticism, just an observation for the unwary!
Hard to better as a biography and introduction to Ravel's music. I've read this in conjunction with listening to the music chronologically. Luckily I had most of his output already but it has been a delight to listen to some unknown works - mainly earlier piano pieces like 'Serenade Grotesque' and 'Entre Cloches', his first orchestral piece the Sheherazade Overture, but also most importantly the opera 'L'Heure Espagnole'.
Ravel seems a very admirable character, under his reserved persona someone who supported other musicians, was not afraid to take on what he perceived as poor criticism, but of course it his music that shines so brightly. It is tragic to read of his ill-health that silenced him as a composer 5 years before his death at 62.
For me what I love most about Ravel's music is the pervading sense of lyrical melancholy that flows through so many of the works. I hear a tenderness and humanity that belies his reputation as a brilliant but cold artificer.
This is a very thorough and thoughtful analysis of the life and work of Maurice Ravel, probably the best of its kind produced to date. To be generally recommended, certainly to people seriously interested in this great composer.