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Classics Explained: RAVEL - Bolero and Ma Mere l'oye (Smillie)


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Classics Explained: RAVEL - Bolero and Ma Mere l'oye (Smillie)

Classics Explained
An Introduction to... RAVEL: Boléro and Ma Mere l'oye

Author and narrator: Jeremy Siepmann
2 CDs, including the complete work
108-page booklet
Naxos 8.558032-33
ISBN: 1-84379-093-9

The famous Boléro and the enchanting Mother Goose Suite give us Ravel the orchestral sorcerer at the peak of his unsurpassed powers. From the fierce vitality of sun-baked Spain to the most poignant evocations of childhood and innocence, he captures the immediacy of experience as we feel it. Yet he saw himself as an artisan, not an artist, and a discoverer rather than a composer. Behind every work was a craftsman of astonishing skill - so astonishing that we can examine the artistic workshop in minute detail without dispelling any of the magic.

'Boléro is the most formula-ridden, deliberately repetitious piece of music ever to enter the mainstream concert repertoire,' says Jeremy Siepmann. Ravel himself regarded it as an experiment in form - yet it has proved one of the most popular and seemingly spontaneous works in all classical music. In his informative manner, Siepmann explains, 'Ravel seems to put all his cards on the table right at the outset... but like all top-class magicians... he had endless surprises up his sleeve.' With the surprises revealed, the spotlight put also on the enchanting Mother Goose Suite, and Ravel's fascinating life and behaviour related in the accompanying booklet, this is a compelling recording.

Disc 1

Ravel, Maurice

  An Introduction to ... RAVEL: Boléro and Ma Mère L'oye
1.   Bolero - Introduction; cue to unadorned Bolero rhythm, Part 1 00:02:29
2.   Bolero rhythm, Part 2: an extended variation of Part 1 00:00:07
3.   ' Motto ' rhythm complete 00:00:21
4.   But here we have snare drums and plucked violas and cellos 00:00:22
5.   Section 1: Introduction of ' the theme ' by solo flute 00:00:37
6.   Flute continues with Part 2 of theme 00:00:48
7.   Section 2: Complete statement of theme by clarinet as flute joins ' motto ' group 00:01:30
8.   Introduction of ' discordant ' harp into the unfolding picture 00:00:18
9.   Section 3: Bassoon introduces closely related variant of theme 00:00:34
10.   ... but then veers upwards, slowing rhythm and introducing new syncopation 00:00:59
11.   Section 4: ' Petite ' E flat clainet takes over theme, including variants 00:01:21
12.   Section 5: Oboe d'amore takes over theme but returns to its original form 00:01:34
13.   Section 6: Theme now shared by two instruments: uted trumpet and flute 00:01:16
14.   Section 7: Tenor saxophone takes Theme as trumpet replaces horn in ' motto ' 00:01:39
15.   Section 8: Theme taken by soprano saxphone, ' espressivo ' 00:01:09
16.   Section 9: Theme: celeste, piccolos and horn; Motto: flute and French horn 00:01:24
17.   Section 10: Theme: Oboes, horns, clarinets; Motto: plucked violas and violins 00:02:06
18.   Section 11: Theme taken by First Trombone, complete with jazzy slides 00:01:40
19.   Section 12: Theme: flutes, oboes, clarinets, sax; Motto: bassoons, horns, trumpets 00:01:13
20.   Section 13: Violins at last take the main tune, joining massed winds 00:01:14
21.   Section 14: Violins divide into four groups, each ' double - stopping ' 00:01:04
22.   Section 15: Trumpet, trombone 2 and tuba join the foreground 00:01:18
23.   Section 16: First trombone and soprano saxophone ' rejoin ' theme 00:00:56
24.   Section 17: Fortissimo; all strings ' double - stopping '; trumpets added 00:01:26
25.   Section 18: Entire orchestra now employed, ' as loudly as possible ' 00:01:18
26.   Section 19: Sudden, amazing change of key, lurching from C to E Major 00:01:20
27.   Section 20: Key now lurches back to C, as jazzy trombones whiningly protest 00:00:36
28.   Cue to complete performance 00:00:20
29.   Bolero (complete) 00:16:16

Disc 2

Ravel, Maurice

  An Introduction to ... RAVEL: Boléro and Ma Mère L'oye
1.   Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant - Opening figure on flute; rising, falling, and then reeated 00:01:04
2.   Same again, with emphasis on delicacy of scoring 00:00:30
3.   answering variant, accompanied by plucked double basses 00:00:19
4.   Reminder of opening figure 00:00:18
5.   ... and now its rhythmical mirror image, or almost... 00:00:12
6.   Answering Phrase 2: a near - inversion, over ' James Bond ' accompaniment 00:00:41
7.   Pivotal Phrase 3, reversing direction but keeping rhythm of Phrase 2 00:00:46
8.   Reprise of Phrases 1 and 2, but with new accompaniment 00:00:39
9.   Further Reprise of Phrase 2, now on violin, accompanied by harp 00:00:40
10.   Pavane (complete) 00:01:41
11.   Petit Poucet (Tom Thumb) - Introduction; Opening, with multi - metre rising scales from muted violins 00:00:49
12.   Change of metre continue as solo oboe introduces Theme One 00:00:24
13.   Oboe yields to Cor Anglais for Theme Two, against lower (still muted) strings 00:00:44
14.   Theme One returns, shared by clarinet and flute, muted horn added to accompaniment 00:00:25
15.   'Motto' rhythm dominates as intensity increases from lower strings to full orchestra 00:00:46
16.   Fear subsides as Theme Two returns, again in Cor Anglais but now in a different key 00:00:32
17.   Sensational sound effects evoke a wood at night, with screeches, cuckooing etc. 00:00:44
18.   Texture thins; Theme one returns, delicately scored for strings and piccolo 00:00:19
19.   The main part of movement ends, with waltz - like march(!), featuring flute 00:00:28
20.   Petit Poucet (complete) 00:03:28
21.   Laideronnette, Imperatrice des Pagodes - Introduction; opening bars, followed by Theme One 00:02:00
22.   Oriental - orchestral equivalent of an imprial telephone bell 00:00:15
23.   ... oboe ' answers ' with a very slightly varied version of Theme One 00:00:15
24.   Expanded derivative of the ' telephone bell ' interrupts the theme again 00:01:00
25.   Fragments of theme in flutes and cor anglais, with ' James Bond ' tag in violins 00:00:24
26.   'Gamelan ' music from flute and piccolo, accompanied by harp, xylophone and strings 00:00:32
27.   arrival of Empress; upper strings yield to winds, celeste, harp and (very discreet) gong 00:00:47
28.   Laideronnette, Imperatrice des Pagodes (complete) 00:03:57
29.   Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bete - opening 00:00:51
30.   Characteristic pattern of two short phrases answered by a long one 00:00:36
31.   Clarinet, flutes and violas, with ' sighing' figure derived from downward string motif 00:00:21
32.   Varied reprise of opening, entry of the ' Beast '; ' Watch it ! Watch it ! ' 00:00:32
33.   Again the ' Beast ' growls; again the cautious warning ' Watch it ! ' from the winds 00:00:40
34.   Derivative of Beauty's Theme from flute, combined with ' caution motif ' in strings 00:00:38
35.   ' Beast's theme ' rises in pitch with each successive ' gowl ' (representing hope) 00:00:52
36.   ' Beauty ', ' Beast ' and ' Caution ' motifs all combine simultaneously 00:01:12
37.   ' Beast ' (contra - bassoon) climbs ever higher, handing over to bassoon proper 00:00:49
38.   Harp's upward glide heralds the moment of transformation; love song, fear, release 00:02:09
39.   Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bete (complete) 00:04:14
40.   Le jardin feerique - Introduction; Opening bars are unfuuuuuuuuurled by the strings alone 00:00:40
41.   The rhythmic basis, and its guises. First, a question: ' Where went my childhood' 00:01:23
42.   The question intensified:' Oh where went ... my childhood' 00:00:15
43.   The answer, with a falling inflection: ' Gone is your childhood.' 00:00:20
44.   The plea: ' Bring back my childhood!' 00:00:14
45.   The response: ' Seek in ... your mem'ry. There it ... will be.' 00:00:25
46.   Ravel's use of tone colour to change the feeling of the music 00:00:49
47.   Further illustration of the same point 00:00:27
48.   Continued 00:01:44
49.   The nobility of the strings 00:00:45
50.   Bells evoked by French horns; the final, opulent, moving climax of the whole suite 00:01:11
51.   Le jardin feerique (complete) 00:04:00

Total Playing Time: 01:37:01

Ravel, Maurice

Siepmann, Jeremy

Label: Naxos Educational

Genre: Music Education

Period: 20th Century

Catalogue No: 8.558032-33

Barcode: 0636943803226

Physical Release: 03/2001

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