Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Olé!

It's the birthday (or would be, if he were here to celebrate) of that wonderful man of French music Maurice Ravel, one of my favourite composers.

Someone asked me the other day why I'm so fond of these 'on this day' ditties. The dead aren't here to blow out any candles, after all.

But the thing about the creative dead - or rather, those creative artists no longer with us - is that their music (in this case) or poetry or paintings, books, albums, all are. And that's as good a reason to celebrate as any, in my opinion.

So I'm going to listen to Le Tombeau de Couperin (Ravel's tribute to friends killed in the Great War), Alborada del gracioso, the sublime Daphnis et Chloé and the first piece of his I think I ever heard, the Introduction and Allegro.

Oh, and how could I forget the brilliant, jazz-influenced Piano Concerto in G? (Listen to the slow movement if you don't listen to anything else today - it starts at 8m 20s!) I'm certainly going to listen to that.

Probably not, though, to his most famous composition - Boléro. Why? Because as he himself said of it, 'I've written a masterpiece. Unfortunately it contains no music' which is a bit harsh... but very funny.

Anyway I do like Boléro, it's just that - like Elgar's 'Enigma' variations - distance might lead to more enchantment. And it must be a real chore to play. And to conduct. I mean, just look at this - Daniel Barenboim hardly bothers! He lets the West-East Divan Orchestra at the 2014 Proms just get on with it.

Mind you, they do a damn fine job!

Olé!


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