Author Topic: Ravel's Rotunda  (Read 26877 times)

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Ravel's Rotunda
« on: October 20, 2008, 08:46:41 PM »
P.S. someone should start a Ravel thread on the Composer Discussion board!

Hadn't realized it until Guido mentioned it elsewhere on the board but apparently there isn't a Ravel thread!

Seems unfair to one of the greats so here it is.


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

karlhenning

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2008, 04:09:49 AM »
In celebration of this inuagural thread, I'll listen to the Sonata for Vn & Vc!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2008, 05:58:35 AM »
Childish to still have such things, perhaps, but Ravel is probably my favourite composer, along with Janacek. (und Chopin ist auch dabei). (und Brahms). As with Janacek threads, I find it hard to put into a couple of succinct paragraphs what his music means to me, so I'll probably step into this thread more if and when it gets going.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2008, 06:14:52 AM »
No Ravel thread?   :o  Well, thanks, donwyn, for correcting such a massive omission.  I am a huge Ravel fan, as well, ever since at a very early age I heard Rapsodie espagnole by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra--loved it immediately and never looked back.  Too many favorites to list, but I am probably one of the few who still like hearing Boléro played by a great orchestra (e.g., Cleveland did it a few years ago), as a textbook example of brilliant orchestration.  And just in the last couple of years I have discovered L'enfant et les sortilèges--what a score that is.

Like Luke, I find there is way too much on which to comment, and look forward to others' remarks on Ravel's work.

--Bruce
« Last Edit: October 21, 2008, 06:41:12 AM by bhodges »
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Offline Maciek

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2008, 06:17:27 AM »
Some of the songs with piano were a recent, sumptuous discovery for me.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2008, 06:27:42 AM »
Oh, yes, little hidden treasures like the Noel des jouets, or the Deux epigrammes de Clement Marot, or above all the Histoires naturelles - Ravel at his very best. But the core of Ravel songs, for me - in fact, the core of his output - are the two sets of songs with accompaniment by chamber groups: the Mallarme set and the Madagascan one. I understand why Ravel for most people means Bolero and Daphnis - but its these pieces, Gaspard and Miroirs, the later chamber music (piano trio, duo sonata, violin sonata), the two concerti, and L'enfant et les sortileges, which I think are the pinnacle of his music. Though he's one of those composers who has scarcely a duff note, so it's hard to find a work I'm not madly in love with.

Offline jowcol

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2008, 01:51:21 PM »
Maurice is worthy of more than this response-- but I have him in high esteem. 

Daphnis et Chloe-- I know the ending of the ballet gets the most attention, but the opening ten minutes of the ballet floors me.  I remember chilling to this on repeat after a 100 mile bike ride on a 90 degree day. 


Miroirs:  I LOVE this-- it ranks with the Debussy Preludes in my book, and some of my favorite solo piano music.  Valley of the Bells is amazing, and there is something so hauntingly random about Oiseaux tristes that I can't get it out of my head.

Gaspard de la nuit.  Strangely enough, the outer movements don't do it for me-- it's insanely complex, and a lot to like, but I've not heard a version that clicked with me.  The middle movement (Le Gibet) is completely transcendental-- that insistent drone kills me.  I had that on a walkman, and listened to it a few minutes before visiting my first Buddhist temple in Thailand, and now I can't get that piece out of my head when I'm in Asia.  ALso, after a VERY stressfull day, I'll turn out the lights and listen to Le Gibet in the dark.

Funny, on Bolero I went from liking it, to hating and scorning it, to loving it.  You just need to remember what he said-- it's 17 minutes of orchestration, not music.  There is a Zen thing to it.

Piano Concerto for the Left Hand is one of my favorite PC's period.  So heavy and brooding.  I must admit his other one leaves me cold. But the Left Hand PC knocks me dead.

I really like Mother Goose-- both for two pianos and orchestrated.   I have a version for two pianos and percussion that also has Rhapsodie Espangol I really like a lot-- although I can't seem to remember the label it was on.

I like the String Quartet in F Major- and I'm not big on String Quartets.

Yeah-- his orchestration of Pictures will always be a fave of mine.  I don't care if he turned it into a French sounding work (as Stokowski said...)


That's the Reader's Digest version.....
"If it sounds good, it is good."
Duke Ellington

Offline Guido

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2008, 04:52:33 PM »
When does Ravel's music arrive at maturity? Sometime around the turn of the century? It's a rather small output in general, but as Luke says nothing duff (like all my favourite composers!). I would really like to get a very complete view of Ravel - having loved the piano trio, violin/cello sonata, the few piano works that I own and the two concertos for a long time, and now being introduced by Luke to the Mallarme set and the Madagascan set of songs makes me want to explore all the rest. The later violin sonata, Tzigane, and other songs, and complete piano music, seems the obvious place to turn. Haven't even heard of L'enfant et les sortileges or Histoires naturelles.
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2008, 05:06:24 PM »
. . . Haven't even heard of L'enfant et les sortileges or Histoires naturelles.

Nor me  :-[

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2008, 10:31:46 PM »
Histoires I can understand, but L'enfant?  :o :o One of the major operas of the 20th century?  :o

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2008, 10:38:44 PM »
Remedy the situation immediately - you're missing an experience you will dig deeply  8) 8) And whilst you're at it, get hold of Ravel's other one-acter, the superb L'heure espagnole. It's top quality Ravel, no less a piece than L'enfant but only a little less 'out there' in conception. I'd recommend Ansermet for both operas. Good taste has made me steer clear of the Previn recordings with the horrible Disney-animation style covers.  0:)

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2008, 10:46:20 PM »
I'd add, btw, that these two intimate, charming, amusing and touching operas (they're probably exquisite too, but I don't think we're allowed to say that anymore), taken together, contain practically everything that is most echt-Ravel - the stunning orchestration and use of unusual instruments; the gift for bullseye pastiche; the humour and the gift for musical bon-mots; all the finest melodic Ravelisms; the catharsis (boy, oh boy, but the ending of L'enfant is one of the most moving things in opera); the obsession with automata and clockwork, with toys and beautiful objects; and, above all, with the childlike, with innocence and its loss

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2008, 11:01:10 PM »
Histoires naturelles, FWIW, are much smaller works - a song cycle setting texts about birds and small animals. The fisherman recounts his evening encounter with a kingfisher in crystalline wonder, the peacock struts proudly to the dots of a French overture etc., etc. The poems and Ravel's settings, are mildly revolutionary (the songs did in fact cause a bit of a stir) because of the colloquial language and, in the case of the music, in the equally colloquial ellisions which Ravel asks for. But above all, this is mature, complex, confident, skilled, funny-touching Ravel at his best.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2008, 11:14:41 PM »
BTW, Guido, this disc contains a great deal of the chamber music you wanted to hear, and in great performances:



The two violin sonatas, early and late, and the duo sonata with cello, Tzigane (with lutheal-piano as Ravel desired in this recording - it sounds cool; he also uses it in L'enfant IIRC), and a number of smaller, 'exquisite' miniatures - Berceuse, Kaddish, Vocalise...

Add to this the piano trio, the quartet and the Introduction and Allegro and you have all the chamber music you could wish for! A combination of the above disc and the two below discs ought to keep anyone happy:




« Last Edit: October 21, 2008, 11:22:10 PM by lukeottevanger »

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2008, 11:25:33 PM »
Depending on your personal definitions, you could add the two songs sets with chamber ensemble to this list, too. This is the disc from which I sent you these cycles:



This Naxos twofer for the songs is pretty good and comprehensive too:




karlhenning

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2008, 04:05:11 AM »
Thanks for all your suggestions here, Luke! (Well, and all your suggestions elsewhere, too;  didn't mean that as a delimiter . . . .)

karlhenning

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2008, 04:05:44 AM »
Suggestions, dare I say it, befitting a . . . genius.

Offline Guido

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2008, 04:16:22 AM »
Ordered the Naxos Ravel songs set, and the Chiu piano recording... Ansermet's recordings of the operas seem to be very expensive so I think a trip to the Pendlebury is in order!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2008, 05:36:46 AM »
Suggestions, dare I say it, befitting a . . . genius.

You too, of course.  :-*

Offline Maciek

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Re: Ravel's Rotunda
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2008, 05:38:55 AM »
Ah, just wait till he gets here... ;D

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