Ravel’s “Boléro”, somewhat deconstructed‏

by richibi

where the players, one by one, take up their positions out
of the crowd and deliver their unexpected and exhilarating
music
 
it was of course a hit, but at only under five minutes it
had been severely truncated 
 
 
 
it should last between 15 and 18 minutes according to the 
composer’s not quite determinate instructions, Tempo di
Bolero, moderato assai, he wrote, bolero tempo, very
moderate, though he preferred ever, it is reported, an
especially moderate, assai, pace    
 
here’s Barenboim conducting it, to my mind too fast, 
while remaining exhilarating nevertheless throughout,
rousing and bombastic, incontrovertibly thrilling, for
the person on the move perhaps just the ticket, but
for me it’s like speeding up the “Minute Waltz” to
anywhere under a minute, it isn’the point
 
 
like Strauss’ Burleske“, the “Boléro” has only one movement,
therefore it is not called a symphony, but by it’s own generic
name, this is Ravel defining the bolero, a bolero according
to him, which with his authority he’s defined for us, and
for very history, as it turns out, as well, indeed nearly
patenting the word itself to mean his own music, much
as Strauss did for his “Burleske“, both maintaining,
incidentally, individual cultural spellings and lingual
contexts 
 
 
it’s essence is in its rhythm, unremitting, unyielding, unerring,
it is the rhythm of the heart, thumping, insistent, primordially
ever present, a Classical conception, a throwback to the
standards, the musical expectations, of Beethoven, Haydn, 
Mozart, which nevertheless remain never defunct despite
their unmodern though always relevant antiquity   
 
rhythm talks  
 
 
it is first of all sensuous, I am reminded of houris, any one of
the harem of virgins provided believers in their anticipated
heaven, shimmering in silks and translucent veils, languidly
seducing, undulating   
 
later it seems a march of Caesar’s legions coming irrepressibly
forth unto their final, decisive, confrontation 
 
the second movement of Schubert’s Ninth Symphony, has the
same particular dichotomy, the link between seduction and
war 
 
 
this piece could have been a tattoo structurally were it not
for the melodious instruments, the drums, timpani, their
incontrovertible throb, press irrepressibly onward, their
final surge valiant, military, against the sinuosity of the
accompanying lyrical step 
 
but it is indeed a bolero, a dance of seduction and love 
 
I think the connection is in the pulsations, rhythmic,
throbbing, persistent, of a comparably palpitating 
heart
 
love, passion, ambition, depend on the fervour of their 
common vibration 
 
 
this could have been also a mystic chant, compelling,
insidious, entrancing, rhythmically hypnotic, verily
like a swelling mass, were it not for the more carnal 
associations with blood, lust and war  
 
what does that say, would you think, about rites around
religious reverence
 
 
Richard        
 
psst: thanks Norm
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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