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Thread: Who's the greater orchestrator 2. Ravel or korsakov

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    Default Who's the greater orchestrator 2. Ravel or korsakov

    Someone said on my old thread on "Ravel vs Strauss at orchestration" , that Rimsky korsakov vs Ravel would be a better thread so... Here it is, who do you think was the superior orchestrator?

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    This is another one of those questions no one should ever have to deal with ….
    That said, it seems apparent to me that Ravel benefitted from Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration practices. I suspect he knew Korsakov scores well and probably even read through the Russian's orchestration text.
    Ravel wasn't the first to orchestrate Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, but the orchestration dates from several decades after Korsakov had composed such masterpieces of orchestration as Scheherazade and Golden Cockerel, and I'd suggest that Ravel learned from those earlier works.
    One cannot slight Ravel as an orchestrator. Nor Korsakov.
    And, if you've noticed that I actually ignore answering the question with a sure, positive response, then we cannot slight you as an astute reader.

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    the great orchestrators of the 20th century - Ravel, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, all benefited from Rimsky's work...I think they are all superior, however, none would have achieved what they did without R-K's previous efforts...

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    Senior Member Tchaikov6's Avatar
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    I will have to say Ravel, but wow- Capriccio Espagnole, Russian Easter Festival Overture, and Scheherazade are some of the most finely orchestrated pieces I've ever heard, just brilliant.

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    Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Principles of Orchestration”:
    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3390...-h/33900-h.htm

    “There are people who consider orchestration simply as the art of selecting instruments and tone qualities, believing that if an orchestral score does not sound well, it is entirely due to the choice of instruments and timbres. But unsatisfactory resonance is often solely the outcome of faulty handling of parts, and such a composition will continue to sound badly whatever choice of instruments is made. So, on the other hand, it often happens that a passage in which the chords are properly distributed, and the progression of parts correctly handled, will sound equally well if played by strings, wood-wind or brass.”

    I would never want to choose between these two amazing composers, but I think Rimsky is more colorful and informal than Ravel’s super-polished orchestrations. His Scheherazade is like actually being there rather than just being about something. His Russian Easter Festival Overture is equally vivid, colorful and exciting. Ravel’s Pictures is a revelation, but I think it loses some of the rawness and delight of the original Mussorgsky... Ravel had to be a perfectionist and I think Rimsky was more natural and accessible. But kudos to both.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Nov-20-2018 at 05:52.
    "That's all Folks!"

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Ravel was characterized somewhere as the "watchmaker of music," and that can be applied to his orchestration as well. Everything is precise and measured, its effect minutely calculated. R-R, on the other hand, splashes on the colors using a big canvas. You've almost got to wear dark glasses.

    Which is "better"? You tell me!


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