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Thread: Ravel - Orchestra works

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    Default Ravel - Orchestra works

    Ravel was a great composer, wrote in may different forms - his orchestra works are some of the greatest of the 20th century...

    Daphnis & Chloe
    Rapsodie Espagnole
    Alborado del Gracioso
    La Valse
    Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
    Le Tombeau de Couperin
    Pavane pour une Infante defunte
    Ma Mere L'Oye
    Bolero
    let's not forget the Piano Concerti, either...

    are some of his best-known works...Ravel was a brilliant orchestrator, and his works present many challenges to performers to this day...Every orchestra's audition lists will contain a healthy portion of Ravel excerpts to be performed by prospective candidates.

    As with Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, etc - most of the greatest conductors and orchestras have recorded and performed Ravel's orchestra works, which have long been mainstream elements of the standard repertoire...
    for myself - I love all of these works, but my top favorites are
    La Valse - the ultimate waltz, elegant, dark, sophisticated - which ends in a wild dissolution and frenzy [perhaps reflecting the state of the World at the time, which was ripping itself to shreds in the violence and chaos of World War I??]
    Rapsodie Espagnole - brilliant writing, both colorful and flamboyant, and dark and mysterious..
    Alborado del Gracioso - a short, brilliant work, colorful, with a contemplative, lyrical middle section - sandwiched by orhcestra brilliance.
    Daphnis et Chloe - Ravel's magnum opus, imo -

    I have many recordings of these splendid works - Monteux, Abbado, Munch, Bernstein - all good, but my top favorites, the ones I listen to most often - are
    Reiner, and Martinon - they seem to bring out the colors, the flamboyance, the mystery, the subtlety, the great washes of sound most consistently.
    I'm sure we have lots of Ravel fans here -
    Last edited by Heck148; Feb-16-2017 at 17:01.

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    Essential: Pavane pour une infante defunte, Daphnis et Chloe, La valse, Piano concerto in D major [left hand], Piano concerto in G major.
    Important: Valses nobles et sentimentales, Le tombeau de Couperin, Une barque sur l'ocean, Rapsodie Espagnole, Tzigane, Bolero.
    Good to have: Ma mere l'oye, Alborada del gracioso, Menuet antique.
    Not required: Ouverture de feerie Sheherazade, Fanfare Eventail de Jeanne.

    From my blog.
    Und Morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen.....

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    The Pavane pour une infante defunte is a beautiful work, and very challenging to play well...the horn solo is very difficult - high range, soft requiring a very gentle, dolce touch....
    there are some excellent renditions, but for me, Reiner/CSO takes the prize - Reiner has Hn I [P.Farkas] play very softly, gently, lyrically - not powerfully, "right out front" style....the effect is dolce, gentle, soothing...ethereal I guess is what I'm trying to say...quite magical.

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    La Valse is a difficult work to pull off....wonderful haunting opening - 2 bassoons over basses....the various waltz themes are presented, almost as threads which gradually coalesce into broad sweeping waltz tunes....this isn't the Viennese style Strauss waltz, with their characteristic rhythm, but a sophisticated, lilting presentation...there is a gradual building of tension and release, a yearning, almost,striving for a resolution that cannot be quite attained....

    this extra-musical interpretation may be wrong - but I can't help thinking that this work reflects the tortured world at the time - the pre-WWI "Gilded Age", the Grand, but decaying Empires, the old regime as such, being torn to pieces by the upheaval of the terrible war - hence the frustration, the unfulfilled yearning....if only ----
    by the work's conclusion, the excitement reaches a frenzied pitch, a wild, orgasmic dance at fever pitch....
    This is a great challenge for orchestra and conductor - rhythmically, it has to stay together, the orchestra must play at fever pitch, but the conductor must maintain absolute rhythmic control, while still letting the orchestra "rip".
    Lots of recordings - Monteux/LSO is very good, Abbado/LSO is good...
    Bernstein/NYPO and Munch/BSO certainly gain the feverish excitement, but they do not maintain good rhythmic control....Martinon/CSO and Reiner/CSO [live performance] get the excitement, and maintain control....Martinon's is very excellent - Reiner/CSO also, except the sound is from live performance tape [3/60] - not the greatest. There is a Munch/CSO version on DVD which is very good - certainly right up there in the frenzied excitement aspect...
    My new overall favorite, tho, is Reiner/PittsburghSO - from 4/47 - [Pristine Audio: Reiner Rarities Vol 3] - terrific sound on this one, and the performance is stellar....

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    Looking forward to watching the New York City Ballet performing Balanchine's "La Valse" (to music from "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" and "La Valse") tonight on U.S. Public Television.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    Looking forward to watching the New York City Ballet performing Balanchine's "La Valse" (to music from "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" and "La Valse") tonight on U.S. Public Television.
    Cool!! I'll have to see if I can catch that....thanx for the heads-up..

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    The best La Valse I ever heard was with Pierre Boulez conducting the New York Philharmonic live when he was music director.

    Razor sharp and dazzling!
    I don't need an airplane. My music transports me to where I want to go.

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    Favorite pieces by Ravel:

    Rapsodie Espagnole
    Alborado del Gracioso
    La Valse
    Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
    Le Tombeau de Couperin
    Pavane pour une Infante defunte
    Ma Mere L'Oye

    Favorite conductors for Ravel: Munch, Martinon, Monteux

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    I love Ravel's music. It was a vinyl LP of Ma Mere l'Oye, La Valse and Bolero that got me hooked on him. My first attempts at composition were imitations of Ma Mere l'Oye.

    Here is my favorite video of Bernstein conducting La Valse with the Orchestre National de France.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg2i2NB-i3o

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    The best La Valse I ever heard was with Pierre Boulez conducting the New York Philharmonic live when he was music director.

    Razor sharp and dazzling!
    I have his recording with the NY Phil on an early Sony SACD. Haven't listened to it for a while.

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    I probably shouldn't say this out loud, but I like Bolero. Mostly because I'm a sax player, and there are not one but two sax solos in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    I probably shouldn't say this out loud, but I like Bolero. Mostly because I'm a sax player, and there are not one but two sax solos in it.
    I like Bolero, too...It's not something I listen to a lot, but it is fun....and quite the virtuoso showpiece - some very demanding solos....
    I think my Ravel favorites are:
    Rapsodie Espagnole
    La Valse
    Alborado del Gracioso

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    Lots of recordings - Monteux/LSO is very good, Abbado/LSO is good...
    Bernstein/NYPO and Munch/BSO certainly gain the feverish excitement, but they do not maintain good rhythmic control....Martinon/CSO and Reiner/CSO [live performance] get the excitement, and maintain control....Martinon's is very excellent - Reiner/CSO also, except the sound is from live performance tape [3/60] - not the greatest. There is a Munch/CSO version on DVD which is very good - certainly right up there in the frenzied excitement aspect...
    My new overall favorite, tho, is Reiner/PittsburghSO - from 4/47 - [Pristine Audio: Reiner Rarities Vol 3] - terrific sound on this one, and the performance is stellar....
    These recordings are all rather old now. There's nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if you (or anyone) could recommend some more recent recordings of La Valse?
    I have the Inbal / Orchestre Nationale de France box set of Ravel orchestral music on Brilliant Classics which suffers with rather muffled sound.
    I also have a single disc on DG with Barenboim conducting the Orchestre de Paris which comes with Pavane pour une enfant Defunte, Daphnic et Chloe (part 2), La Valse and a spectacular Bolero, slower than many but really solid. I remember watching Barenboim on TV conducting Bolero at the Proms. For a lot of the work he barely did anything (or anything that was obvious), yet got a superb performance from his orchestra.
    Last edited by techniquest; Feb-18-2017 at 07:44.
    There will come a time soon when Youtube won't let us do this...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn67 View Post
    Favorite pieces by Ravel:

    Rapsodie Espagnole
    Alborado del Gracioso
    La Valse
    Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
    Le Tombeau de Couperin
    Pavane pour une Infante defunte
    Ma Mere L'Oye

    Favorite conductors for Ravel: Munch, Martinon, Monteux
    Good choice, I like these too, perhaps a somewhat different order .
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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