Ravel’s Greatest Hit – The Ultimate Bolero

Ravel's Greatest HitRavel’s Greatest Hit
The Ultimate Bolero
(RCA – 2004)
by Matthew Robinson

While almost everyone knows the theme from “Bolero” (you know— baaaa- ba ba-da da-da ba-da ba da-daaa!), few may have considered it beyond its orchestral orientations. On this new compilation, this legendary “one-hit wonder” is interpreted in 10 different (often very different) ways, demonstrating how original this “repetitive” theme can be. From the trilling percussion of Evelyn Glennie to Isao Tomita’s sweeping synths and from the four-handed keywork of Jaques Fray and Mario Braggiotti to the 50-fingered flights of The Canadian Brass, the variations on this famous theme are impressive and often intriguing.

Even Benny Goodman takes a swing! And Boston fans get two- a lush and languid one from the Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a short and snappy one from the Boston Pops, led by the beloved Arthur Fiedler. “One-hit wonder”? Maybe. But this “hit” was (and continues to be) a home run!

© 2004, M. S. Robinson, ARR