Bolero Paradox

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Jerry

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Dec 15, 2021, 12:05:26 PM12/15/21
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Ravel’s Bolero may be the most maligned work in the orchestral repertoire. So many of you, like myself, probably haven’t given it a listen in quite a long time. It’s just too repetitive. Then I stumbled upon a difficult-to-find CD reissue of a recording that I had during those early pre-stereo LP days [Pedro Freitas Branco conducting]. The sound is surprisingly good and the performance quite engaging.
So where’s the paradox? At a timing of 18:36, it may be the slowest ever and, logically, might be expected to be the most interminably boring reading ever. But not so. Ravel’s own recording is said to be slow (I haven’t heard it and can’t be sure of its actual timing), but it appears as if most other recordings seem to fall somewhere between 14 ½ and 15 ½ minutes. Could it be that most conductors these days have it all wrong?
Another longish recording is Previn’s LSO on EMI at 17:21 that might be worth considering even if you’ve vowed never again to listen to that piece.

number_six

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Dec 15, 2021, 4:07:53 PM12/15/21
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Repetition and variation are intertwined; each implies the possibility of the other. I think Ravel's Bolero offers both.

I can see how a slower tempo, if well played, might allow a better opportunity to appreciate the piece.

Dan Koren

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Dec 15, 2021, 5:58:18 PM12/15/21
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Sergiu Celibidache completely owns the Bolero, lock, stock
and barrel. His last performance of the work is roughly 18+
minutes excluding pre and post applause:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m739p0sFwDs

I listen to the Bolero every morning so I can gradually
wake up without the intrusion of vulgar alarm clocks.
The Bolero is one of the greatest music masterpieces.
Ravel achieves in only 18 minutes what takes Brother
Anton an hour and a half! ;-)

dk

gggg gggg

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Dec 16, 2021, 12:17:53 PM12/16/21
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On Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 9:05:26 AM UTC-8, Jerry wrote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol%C3%A9ro#Tempo_and_duration

Dan Koren

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Dec 16, 2021, 2:32:50 PM12/16/21
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On Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 12:17:53 PM UTC-5, gggg gggg wrote:
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol%C3%A9ro#Tempo_and_duration

Why don't you just say
whatever it is that you
are trying to say ?!?

dk

JohnGavin

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Dec 16, 2021, 4:34:54 PM12/16/21
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If Ravel composed anything less than 1st rate, he tore it up and threw it away.
His taste was impeccable. Just my opinion of course.

Frank Berger

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Dec 16, 2021, 4:57:06 PM12/16/21
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It is my opinion that it is not necessary to state that an opinion is an opinion.

JohnGavin

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Dec 16, 2021, 6:01:49 PM12/16/21
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In that case you just contradicted yourself.

Kerrison

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Dec 16, 2021, 6:04:31 PM12/16/21
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I sometimes wonder why YouTube isn't made more use of in here. Ravel's own alleged recording of the "Bolero" was uploaded there in 2019 and has already had over 6,000 views. I say "alleged" because there's an essay under the video which states that Albert Wolff had a hand in the recording, though this appears to be something that has already been discussed in the past. At any rate, the timing is just under 16 minutes and strikes me as somewhat lugubrious ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E__RMXWy4Jo

At the other end of the scale, Stokowski's 1940 All-American Youth Orchestra recording at 12 minutes suffers from a low-level transfer and much manipulation of the volume levels for each solo instrument at the start. This was recorded on two 10-inch 78s (four short sides) which doubtless accounts for the tempo adopted ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3o-wiS16jk

As to Celibidache, there are half-a-dozen performances by him on YouTube, with several different orchestras over the years, and with timings ranging from around 17 to 20 minutes, so take your pick! ...

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Celibidache+Ravel+Bolero+

Evidently, Toscanini's 14-minute reading didn't please the composer but I think I prefer it to the oh-so-slow versions out there ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiYIiPWZ6cQ



gggg gggg

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Dec 17, 2021, 3:13:29 AM12/17/21
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gggg gggg

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Dec 17, 2021, 3:17:03 AM12/17/21
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On Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 7:05:26 AM UTC-10, Jerry wrote:
https://www.francemusique.fr/en/10-little-things-you-might-not-know-about-ravel-s-bolero-15565

Steven Bornfeld

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Dec 17, 2021, 11:00:48 AM12/17/21
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LOL!

Ricardo Jimenez

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Dec 17, 2021, 1:35:06 PM12/17/21
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Since the interest in the piece is the varied orchestration, one would
think the more spectacular the recorded sound, the better. So which
performance has the best sonics?

Frank Berger

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Dec 17, 2021, 2:46:28 PM12/17/21
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(eye-roll)

Frank Berger

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Dec 17, 2021, 2:57:32 PM12/17/21
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Apparently Gramophone doesn't agree, as this review of Bolero recordings, doesn't mention sonics at all.

https://tinyurl.com/2p8ejzea

I don't disagree with what you said, but the quality of the recording is rarely going to be a major factor for me in any recording.

mINE109

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Dec 17, 2021, 3:07:06 PM12/17/21
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On 12/17/21 12:34 PM, Ricardo Jimenez wrote:

> Since the interest in the piece is the varied orchestration, one would
> think the more spectacular the recorded sound, the better. So which
> performance has the best sonics?

You'd think there would be plenty, and there are so many a recent
Gramophone article overlooked the Dutoit/Montreal effort. The audiophile
faves include Skrowaczewski, Martinon and Munch. The Gramophone prefers
Boulez/NYPO.

Frank Berger

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Dec 17, 2021, 3:28:51 PM12/17/21
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I guess I would expect good sonics from Minnesota/Oue on Reference Recordings.

Al Eisner

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Dec 17, 2021, 5:44:47 PM12/17/21
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Your opinion is correct (in my opinion, of course).
--
Al Eisner

raymond....@gmail.com

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Dec 17, 2021, 7:03:12 PM12/17/21
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One of the funniest short films is that by Patrice Leconte, Le batteur du boléro, the link as below.
Bolero is a great piece of music regardless.

https://youtu.be/NCex9IjPNCo

Ray Hall, Taree

Kerrison

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Dec 18, 2021, 4:46:06 AM12/18/21
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> One of the funniest short films is that by Patrice Leconte, Le batteur du boléro, the link as below.
> Bolero is a great piece of music regardless.
>
> https://youtu.be/NCex9IjPNCo
>
> Ray Hall, Taree


Also on YouTube are several performances of Bejart's ballet, in which the soloist - whether male or female - has to dance on a table-top, non-stop and bare-foot, while an all-male corps gradually joins in and girates around him or her ... Here is Octavio de la Roza working up a sweat ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkfXZSYzUxA



gggg gggg

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Dec 21, 2021, 12:49:55 AM12/21/21
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In the early days of stereo, wasn't it Charles LIVING-STEREO Munch vs. Paul LIVING-PRESENCE Paray?

gggg gggg

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Jan 11, 2022, 2:21:59 PMJan 11
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On Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 9:05:26 AM UTC-8, Jerry wrote:
(Recent Y. upload):

How It's Done: Ravel Boléro

number_six

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Jan 17, 2022, 4:44:41 PMJan 17
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Barbirolli /Halle, on Everest, is a more brisk 15:45.
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