Sunday, February 05, 2006

So I thought I'd start with a little Ravel.....

Since Corinne and I went last fall to the Chicago Symphony to see them do a Ravel concert.

Pavane pour une infante défunte or Pavane For a Dead Princess
I have this in both a piano and orchestral recording. I remember reading, probably in the concert's program notes, that Ravel would often get asked which princess it was supposed to be dedicated to, and that he would tell them no one; he just liked the way the name sounded.
I listened to both the piano and orchestral versions and even though I like the orchestral arrangement better because of the different colors of sound, the piano gives the piece a more appropriate meloncholy. I really like this piece because the name and the music match. When I listen to it I can see a whole court of people dressed in mourning dancing slowing around in a big, well lit hall, saying goodbye to their beloved young princess. It's kinda cool.

I think it's safe to say that everyone in the world has heard this piece before. It really, as a piece of music is not all that spectacular. It's just the same motive repeated over and over and over again over a simple snare drum part. I guess what makes the piece fit with its time period is artisticness (is that a word?) of it. I'll explain. To me the Bolero is like a painting I guess, or maybe the actual process of painting a painting. You get the opening with the rhythm serves as setting up the canvas and then the process gets started. The motive is like a paint brush and of course the instrumentation the colors. You start at the top of the orchestra with the flute and progress down through the colors, building the dynamic all the while. Again I think I remember reading in the program notes that Ravel ended up hating this piece because it was what he became most well known for. He didn't like having what was becoming considered his greatest work being something so musically simple.

Rhapsodie espagnol
This is another work that has an almost otherworldly quality to it. There's something about the orchestration and way that motives are used that makes you think that if disney movies were real, they'd be set to some of this music. I think a lot of that is caused by all the glissandos happening all over the place. The middle movements get very dreamlike. I think it's interesting to see a Frenchman writing a spanish piece, and doing a decent job of getting the feel of it. There are parts in the middle that don't seem very spanish at all, but the faster parts do, especially with some help from the castinets.

I hope you enjoyed our foray into the world of Ravel. That's all I'm going to write about because it's almost time for bidnight. bye.

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