Classics Explained: RAVEL - Boléro and Ma Mère l’oye
An exploration of Ravel's Bolero and Ma Mere L'Oye narrated by Jeremy Siepmann
Jeremy Siepmann (reader)
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Ravel: An Introduction to … RAVEL: Bolero and Ma Mere L'oye
- Jeremy Siepmann (reader)
Bolero-Introduction; cue to unadorned Bolero rhythm, Part 1
Bolero rhythm, Part 2: an extended variation of Part 1
' Motto ' rhythm complete
But here we have snare drums and plucked violas and cellos
Section 1: Introduction of ' the theme ' by solo flute
Flute continues with Part 2 of theme
Section 2: Complete statement of theme by clarinet as flute joins ' motto ' group
Introduction of ' discordant ' harp into the unfolding picture
Section 3: Bassoon introduces closely related variant of theme
...but then veers upwards, slowing rhythm and introducing new syncopation
Section 4: ' Petite ' E flat clainet takes over theme, including variants
Section 5: Oboe d'amore takes over theme but returns to its original form
Section 6: Theme now shared by two instruments: uted trumpet and flute
Section 7: Tenor saxophone takes Theme as trumpet replaces horn in ' motto '
Section 8: Theme taken by soprano saxphone, ' espressivo '
Section 9: Theme: celeste, piccolos and horn; Motto: flute and French horn
Section 10: Theme: Oboes, horns, clarinets; Motto: plucked violas and violins
Section 11: Theme taken by First Trombone, complete with jazzy slides
Section 12: Theme: flutes, oboes, clarinets, sax; Motto: bassoons, horns, trumpets
Section 13: Violins at last take the main tune, joining massed winds
Section 14: Violins divide into four groups, each ' double-stopping '
Section 15: Trumpet, trombone 2 and tuba join the foreground
Section 16: First trombone and soprano saxophone ' rejoin ' theme
Section 17: Fortissimo; all strings ' double-stopping '; trumpets added
Section 18: Entire orchestra now employed, ' as loudly as possible '
Section 19: Sudden, amazing change of key, lurching from C to E major
Section 20: Key now lurches back to C, as jazzy trombones whiningly protest
Cue to complete performance
Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant-Opening figure on flute; rising, falling, and then reeated
Same again, with emphasis on delicacy of scoring
answering variant, accompanied by plucked double basses
Reminder of opening figure
... and now its rhythmical mirror image, or almost...
Answering Phrase 2: a near-inversion, over ' James Bond ' accompaniment
Pivotal Phrase 3, reversing direction but keeping rhythm of Phrase 2
Reprise of Phrases 1 and 2, but with new accompaniment
Further Reprise of Phrase 2, now on violin, accompanied by harp
Petit Poucet (Tom Thumb)-Introduction; Opening, with multi-metre rising scales from muted violins
Change of metre continue as solo oboe introduces Theme One
Oboe yields to Cor Anglais for Theme Two, against lower (still muted) strings
Theme One returns, shared by clarinet and flute, muted horn added to accompaniment
'Motto' rhythm dominates as intensity increases from lower strings to full orchestra
Fear subsides as Theme Two returns, again in Cor Anglais but now in a different key
Sensational sound effects evoke a wood at night, with screeches, cuckooing etc.
Texture thins; Theme one returns, delicately scored for strings and piccolo
The main part of movement ends, with waltz-like march(!), featuring flute
Petit Poucet (complete)
Laideronnette, Imperatrice des Pagodes-Introduction; opening bars, followed by Theme One
Oriental-orchestral equivalent of an imprial telephone bell
... oboe ' answers ' with a very slightly varied version of Theme One
Expanded derivative of the ' telephone bell ' interrupts the theme again
Fragments of theme in flutes and cor anglais, with ' James Bond ' tag in violins
'Gamelan ' music from flute and piccolo, accompanied by harp, xylophone and strings
arrival of Empress; upper strings yield to winds, celeste, harp and (very discreet) gong
Laideronnette, Imperatrice des Pagodes (complete)
Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bete- opening
Characteristic pattern of two short phrases answered by a long one
Clarinet, flutes and violas, with ' sighing' figure derived from downward string motif
Varied reprise of opening, entry of the ' Beast '; ' Watch it ! Watch it ! '
Again the ' Beast ' growls; again the cautious warning ' Watch it ! ' from the winds
Derivative of Beauty's Theme from flute, combined with ' caution motif ' in strings
' Beast's theme ' rises in pitch with each successive ' gowl ' (representing hope?)
' Beauty ', ' Beast ' and ' Caution ' motifs all combine simultaneously
' Beast ' (contra-bassoon) climbs ever higher, handing over to bassoon proper
Harp's upward glide heralds the moment of transformation; love song, fear, release
Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bete (complete)
Le jardin feerique-Introduction; Opening bars are unfuuuuuuuuurled by the strings alone
The rhythmic basis, and its guises. First, a question: ' Where went my childhood?'
The question intensified:' Oh where went ... my childhood?'
The answer, with a falling inflection: ' Gone is your childhood.'
The plea: ' Bring back my childhood!'
The response: ' Seek in ... your mem'ry. There it ... will be.'
Ravel's use of tone colour to change the feeling of the music
Further illustration of the same point
The nobility of the strings
Bells evoked by French horns; the final, opulent, moving climax of the whole suite
Le jardin feerique (complete)