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Ravel, Gershwin, Mozart

Yuja Wang stars as piano soloist in George Gershwin’s famous 1924 fusion of classical and jazz, Rhapsody in Blue, bookended by colourfully scored orchestral masterpieces by Ravel and Mozart.


MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937)
Ma mère l’Oye

Rhapsody in Blue (original Jazz band version arranged by Ferde Grofé, 1924)


Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major K. 543

Ravel’s colourful 1911 orchestral suite, Mother Goose, began life as a piano four-hands suite for two children he knew. After the courtly ‘Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Tom Thumb’ paints the woodcutter’s children wandering lost in a wood, woodwind squarks depicting the birds eating the breadcrumbs they’d dropped to find their way home. Next come the pentatonic glitter of ‘Laideronette, Empress of the Pagodas’ and the gently waltzing ‘Conversations of Beauty [upper woodwind] and the Beast [contrabassoon]’, before we’re returned to Sleeping Beauty waking in ‘The Enchanted Garden’. Seventeen years later, Ravel would be fascinated by the jazz-infused concert works of his fellow pianist-composer George Gershwin, who said his 1924 single-movement Rhapsody in Blue, with its famous opening clarinet wail, was inspired by the ‘steely rhythms’ and ‘rattle-ty bang’ of a train ride. Clarinets also play a prominent role in Mozart’s grand, oboe-less Symphony No. 39 of 1788, especially in the central trio of its Menuet third movement.

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