Ravel's Bolero | Melbourne Symphony OrchestraLeft - Conductor Mario Venzago

As one of ten concerts from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Masters Series, Ravel's Bolero showcases the pinnacle of classical music by composers such as Hector Berlioz, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Arnold Schoenberg and Maurice Ravel.

The concert opens with Hector Berlioz's Overture: Le Corsaire, Op. 21. Inspired by the tempest which Berlioz witnessed on a journey to Livorno, Le Corsaire is a musical manifestation of the storm at sea. With escalating and serene melodies, Le Corsaire is an engaging and wonderful introduction to the evening. The composition, performed brilliantly by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, sets the tone for the rest of the concert.

Following Berlioz, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 366 presents a melody of "syncopated strings, underlined by gruff bass triplets" and "rhythmic instability" which resounds throughout the entire composition. Russian pianist Boris Berman reinforces the sounds of the orchestra with the enveloping swirling melody of his piano. The piece is characterised by the oscillating “conversation” which takes place by the interplay between the orchestra and Berman’s piano. As the piece draws to a close, the trembling and rapid sound of Berman’s piano is interlaced with the unified sweeping of the violins and brass of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

After the intermission, the circularity of Mozart's melody in Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 366 is juxtaposed with the fiery experimentation of Arnold Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31. This elaborate composition, presents a complex collision of erratic sounds and melodies. The piece ultimately concludes in a way which is “deliberately open-ended, a departure point rather than a balanced summation”.

The evening draws to a close with the anthem-like familiarity of a marching beat. Maurice Ravel's Bolero begins as something quiet and subtle, but as the composition continues it expands elegantly, escalating with precision and grandeur. Originally written for dancer Ida Rubinstein, the Bolero premiered as a ballet in Paris, 1928. The music is intended to depict an empty café which becomes the scene of “frenetically dancing bodies” when onlookers decide to follow the lead of an anonymous man and woman. Intended to delineate the perfect marriage of music and dance, Ravel’s Bolero is “insidiously unforgettable”.   

The program for Ravel’s Bolero incorporates both conventionally appreciated classical music as well as pieces which seek to challenge the classical form. The complexity and diversity of the compositions were handled with precision and skill by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Conductor Mario Venzago was a wonderfully energetic and engaging host for the evening. As he directed the orchestra, his vivid and excited movements on stage were visible to the audience and enlivened the overall experience of the performance. The impressive stage of the Hamer Hall provided the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with a perfect platform from which to play to a very enthusiastic and attentive audience.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Venue: the Arts Centre, Hamer Hall
Date/Time: Thursday 26, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 June at 8pm
Bookings: www.mso.com.au | or Ticketmaster on 1300 136 166

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