Ravel, Bolero + La Valse
Maurice Ravel the Magician, the Swiss Watchmaker, the aloof, the elegant, the precise, the soulful, the childlike, the naive, the warm, the radical, the progressive. These are all words that were used to describe a man of elegant contradictions throughout his life and into today. I talked a lot about Ravel’s skill with orchestration last week when we discussed Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, but Ravel's brilliance and creativity in terms of orchestral sound is absolutely unparalleled in musical history. But Ravel is somebody I’ve very rarely covered on the show, partly because he didn’t write very many large scale works that would cover a whole hour long episode. Well, it took 6 years for me to figure it out, but I realized a little while ago that I could cover two of Ravel’s shorter pieces and put them together on a double bill, so to speak. So today I’m going to tell you about Ravel’s most beloved and most despised piece, Bolero, and about my favorite piece of Ravel’s, La Valse. These are two pieces that could not be more different in their aims, in their constructions, and in their impacts on the audience. They are both thrillingly exciting, but in completely different ways. A good performance of Bolero should make you want to jump out of your seat with excitement, while a good performance of La Valse should terrify you to your core. Join us to learn all about it!