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Experience the exotic colours of Ravel

21 February 2013 - NZSO Media Release for immediate release
Experience the exotic colours of Ravel with your national orchestra, the NZSO

We open our 2013 NZSO subscription season with an extravagant exploration of the senses, featuring three luscious works by French composer Maurice Ravel and Russian composer Alexander Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy.

Beginning the evening is Ravel’s intoxicating La Valse which was inspired by the waltzes that once glittered in pre-war Vienna. Ravel described this brooding work with the following preface to the score:
“Through whirling clouds, waltzing couples may be faintly distinguished. The clouds gradually scatter: one sees at letter A an immense hall peopled with a whirling crowd. The scene is gradually illuminated. The light of the chandeliers bursts forth at the fortissimo letter B. Set in an imperial court, about 1855.”

The Piano Concerto in G major, one of Ravel’s final compositions, takes its cues from the heady jazz that intoxicated Paris in the 1920s. It comes to life in the skilful hands of New Zealand pianist Stephen De Pledge, a performer who seamlessly invites audiences into the most intimate moments of music.

“New Zealander Stephen De Pledge…is a disarmingly relaxed and sunny performer; the difficult double articulations shivered under his hands and his switches of weight were like quicksilver.” (The Times)

The instantly recognisable Bolero, and possibly Ravel’s most popular work, forms the perfect finale to the evening, encasing us in a satisfying wave of sound with a strong sense of the Spanish heat. Originally composed as a ballet, commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubinstein, the piece, which premiered in 1928, has rarely been staged as a ballet. Interestingly, the rapid success of this memorable orchestral work was a surprise to Ravel, who reportedly predicted that most orchestras would refuse to play it.

Like Ravel, Scriabin’s music is a myriad of nuanced colours. In his The Poem of Ecstasy, featuring a full NZSO including eight horns, five trumpets, two harps and an organ, the Orchestra is given free range to enjoy its enfolding phrases.

“This programme is very rich and luscious. It’s a musical feast and a great concert for the full magnificent forces of the NZSO to begin our 2013 subscription season in Wellington,” says NZSO Head of Artistic Planning Melissa King.

Music Director Pietari Inkinen, who is an ardent Ravel fan, is excited to open our symphonic season with this musical banquet – Bolero! Les Couleurs Exotiques de Ravel.

“I have always been drawn to the musical impressionism of Ravel’s music,” says Maestro Inkinen. “He creates a vivid atmosphere through his powerful melodies and innovative orchestral textures so it will be an absolute thrill to open the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra season with three of his great works.”


The pre-concert talk will be led by NZSO Double Bass player Malcolm Struthers who will interview pianist Stephen De Pledge. Friday 22 March, Renouf Foyer, Michael Fowler Centre, 5.45pm – 6.15pm.

NZSO Bolero!
Les Couleurs Exotiques de Ravel


MAURICE RAVEL La Valse – poeme choreographique
MAURICE RAVEL Piano Concerto in G major

WELLINGTON / Michael Fowler Centre / Friday 22 March / 6:30 pm

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