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Ravel : Bolero / Strauss: Don Quichotte


  • Saturday October 15th 2022
  • Royal Opera
  • 7pm | 1h40 with intermission
Homepage Ravel : Bolero / Strauss: Don Quichotte 2022


Johannes Moser Cello

Orchestre national d’Île-de-France

Case Scaglione Conductor


Maurice Ravel’s Bolero is probably the best-known score in the classical register. This ballet music was composed for the Russian dancer and wealthy patron, Ida Rubinstein, who commissioned the composer to write a “ballet of Spanish character” that goes far beyond the codes of choreography to achieve an extraordinary fullness of sound. Ravel imagined a single musical phrase that becomes the body of a dance movement in one piece, with an unvarying rhythm and tempo, infinite modulations of a single melody. Only the orchestration constantly changes and the melody circulates to all the instruments, during a slow crescendo that suddenly literally explodes. A seemingly theoretical project, which could turn out dry and scholastic, its hypnotic effect on the audience from the very first performance has never waned, and provokes absolute enthusiasm. Because the score is based solely on the principle of repetition, it disconcerted many composers who attended the premiere, such as Florent Schmitt. Others noted the feats of instrumentation, such as Charles Koechlin, who stated in his famous Traité de l’orchestration (1954) that “this entire score is to be studied in detail, for the balance and gradation of sonorities”. But above all, it is a question of hearing the Bolero as a score that gently hooks you by questioning you with that throbbing percussion at the beginning, never to let go until the apotheosis!

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Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote is a magnificent symphonic poem with solo cello: these ‘Fantastic Variations on a Theme of a Chivalrous Nature’ composed in 1898 have become a cult score for symphony orchestras. The cello plays the character of Don Quixote, while the bass clarinet, tuba and viola play the bucolic and mischievous motif of his faithful servant, Sancho Panza. Most of the knight’s adventures are described: the fight against the herd of sheep, the windmills or the flight in the air. But above all, Strauss portrayed himself in this work, through the whimsical and nostalgic character of Quixote and his desperate and ridiculous struggle to find love… A splendid work, this Don Quixote requires all the colours of the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France, spiritedly directed by its conductor Case Scaglione, with the star German cellist Johannes Moser, who makes the most beautiful concert halls in the world vibrate with his indomitable energy!

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Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937)

Alborada del gracioso


Rapsodie espagnole




Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

Don Quichotte

The Royal Opera of the Château de Versailles

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