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St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Stéphane Conducts Ravel – Sonic Impressionism

January 17, 2025 @ 7:30 pm
|Recurring Event (See all)

Maurice Ravel’s music has been with Music Director Stéphane Denève his whole life. For him, Ravel locates the pure pleasure of sound, the pleasure of color. On this program we experience some of Ravel’s many sides, from childlike wonder in Mother Goose to orchestral virtuosity in Bolero. Kirill Gerstein sets himself a formidable challenge, playing both Ravel piano concertos on one program. The first is a brilliant ode to smoky jazz clubs, the other a virtuoso work for the left hand alone.

A few things to know:

  • “Ravel really knocks it out of the ballpark with the Left Hand concerto,” says pianist Kirill Gerstein. “It is a unique piece, written for Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm during the First World War. I’m amazed at the foresight of writing something that at first seems impossible, and yet becomes possible—it transcends reality on the instrument.”
  • Bolero began as a ballet score, telling a story of retribution in the shadow of a Spanish factory. Ravel was fascinated by machines (“I had a great interest in mechanical things”) and by the music of Spain (“I have always had a predilection for Spanish things”). He conjures both in the piece, which rises to a thrilling climax.

Ravel turns 150 in 2025. There is one thing that all musicians can agree on: his music still speaks in a musical language that feels freshly minted and daringly new.

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