Les Musiques de Boléro - Le Mystère Ravel

Anne Fontaine
  1. MAURICE RAVEL - Boléro, M. 81
  2. MAURICE RAVEL - Pavane pour une Infante défunte, M. 19
  3. MAURICE RAVEL - Miroirs, M. 43: IV. Alborada del Gracioso
  4. ALEXANDRE THARAUD - Valse improvisée dans le style années 20 - Scène du Bal
  5. ALEXANDRE THARAUD - Valse improvisée dans le style fox trott
  6. FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN - Waltz No. 19 in A Minor, B. 150
  7. FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN - Nocturne No.13 in C minor, op. 48 No. 1
  8. MAURICE RAVEL - Violin Sonata No. 2 in G Major, M. 77 II. Blues. Moderato
  9. MAURICE RAVEL - Trio en la mineur Mvt 1. Modéré
  10. FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN - Waltz No. 10 in B Minor, Op. 69 No. 2
  11. MAURICE RAVEL - String Quartet in F Major: II. Assez vif - très rythmé       
  12. MAURICE RAVEL - Ma mère l'Oye, M. 62 : VII. Le jardin féérique
  13. MAURICE RAVEL - La Valse, M. 72
  14. MAURICE RAVEL - Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83: II. Adagio assai

 

Boléro, composed by Maurice Ravel in 1928, has always captured the world’s attention. Repetitive, mesmeric, colourful and thrilling, it has also proved a seminal work, influencing composers over the past century. Now it lends its name to a film inspired by the life of Ravel: directed by Anne Fontaine and starring Raphaël Personnaz, Bolero is released in France on March 6th 2024.

The soundtrack of Bolero features Erato and Warner Classics artists of today and yesterday. Among them are luminaries of the present – such as Alexandre Tharaud, Aurélien Pontier, Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley – and legends of the past like Samson François, Dinu Lipatti and André Cluytens. Boléro itself has been specially recorded for the film by the Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Dirk Brossé. Other works by Ravel on the soundtrack include Pavane pour une infante défunte, La Valse, Alborada del gracioso, Ma Mère l'oye, the Piano Concerto in G major and String Quartet, while three piano pieces by Chopin can also be heard.

Alexandre Tharaud makes several appearances on the album – and a cameo appearance in the film, playing the music critic Pierre Lalo (son of composer Edouard Lalo). What’s more, his virtuosic fingers make some appearances of their own.  The actor playing Ravel, Raphaël Personnaz, explains that (with coaching from the distinguished pianist Fréderic Vaysse-Knitter) he manages to look convincing in about 80% of the performance sequences; in the remaining 20% it is Alexandre Tharaud’s hands that we see on the piano keyboard, rising with consummate skill to the technical demands of the music. Ironically, Ravel’s friend, the famous pianist and teacher Marguerite Long (1874-1966) once waspishly described the composer as “a very bad pianist and an even worse conductor”.

Ravel’s genius as a composer is, fortunately, unquestionable. His music is inventive, crafted with exemplary skill, often of transcendent beauty, and capable of both wit and sincere, yet subtle expressivity. Boléro, commissioned for a ballet by the dancer and choreographer Ida Rubenstein (played in the film by Jeanne Balibar), is in some respects unlike anything else he composed. With characteristic dry humour, Ravel claimed that, “I have only written one masterpiece, and that’s Boléro. Unfortunately, it has no music in it.”

As Raphaël Personnaz says: “In Boléro, Ravel saw an allegory of life ending in chaos – he did not conceive the piece as erotic or sexual, despite the nature of the music. He fed so much into it: industrialisation, mechanisation, war, jazz – with the saxophone and that repetitive rhythm which constantly gains in power … When he first saw and heard a performance at the Paris Opéra, he was horrified: he understood what Ida Rubenstein had been saying to him all along … that there was an erotic dimension to Boléro.”

Ravel’s personal life remains something of a mystery, and in her script and direction Anne Fontaine has taken an imaginative approach – for instance in the portrayal of the composer’s relationship with Misia Sert (played by Doria Tillier), a patron and muse to Paris’s creative community in the first half of the 20th century. As it happens, Sert was also a close friend of Coco Chanel, embodied by Audrey Tautou in Fontaine’s award-winning 2009 film Coco before Chanel.

“I didn’t want a chronological structure or a naturalistic structure,” says Fontaine, summarising her approach to the story of Ravel and Boléro, “I was looking more for a structure of feelings and associations ... We worked hard at creating the transitions between periods. They are evoked in sensory terms, as memories of thoughts and feelings which allow us to accompany Ravel on his journey into his own being.”

Les Musiques de Boléro - Le Mystère Ravel • Les Musiques de Boléro - Le Mystère Ravel • Les Musiques de Boléro - Le Mystère Ravel • Les Musiques de Boléro - Le Mystère Ravel •

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