Rapsodie espagnole (1907), Ravel's first published work for orchestra, brings to life the colour and irrepressible vibrancy of the composer's Spanish heritage. Ravel’s aliveness to the nuances of Spanish culture impressed no less a composer than Manuel de Falla, who praised the Rapsodie as "surprising one by its Spanish character, achieved through the free use of the modal rhythms and melodies and ornamental figures of our 'popular' music." In the Rapsodie’s opening movement, Prelude to the Night, Ravel introduces a descending four-note figure that will reappear later on, before guiding us through a range of Impressionistic snapshots: a suavely tranquil Habanera, a jaunty Malagueña, and a bubbling Feria dance that brings the work to a dazzling close. After its Paris premiere in 1908, the Rapsodie quickly entered the international repertoire with performances in cities from London to New York. Ravel’s work proved a perfect platform for MSO Chief Conductor Jaime Martin to celebrate his native country after a highly successful first year with the Orchestra. Revisit the 2022 Season Closing Gala with this ‘beautifully controlled’ and ‘stylishly-handled’ (Limelight) rendition of Ravel’s enchanting ode to Spain.
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