Angélique Kidjo – Lonlon (Ravel’s Bolero)

• “Lonlon (Ravel’s Bolero)” set to an Angelique picture slideshow. Thanks to Canal de hyperballad100.

8.3 “Fantastic Contemporary Classical from Benin”

Having recently bumped into her impressive version of “I Think Ur A Contra”, I decided to have a nibble at a bit of Angelique Kidjo’s back catalogue and downloaded her 2007 album “Djin Djin”, which was bestowed with the accolade “Best Contemporary World Music Album” at the 2008 Grammy Awards. Great achievement, and it’s easy to see why, what with the high quality musicianship on show. However, I have to say, the album doesn’t resonate with Rebel qualities (a bit too MOR for me) but the set finishes off with this belter, an interpretation of Maurice Ravel’s 1928 masterwork “Boléro”.

In a newspaper interview with The Daily Telegraph in July 1931, Ravel spoke about the work as follows:

“It constitutes an experiment in a very special and limited direction, and should not be suspected of aiming at achieving anything different from, or anything more than, it actually does achieve. Before its first performance, I issued a warning to the effect that what I had written was a piece lasting seventeen minutes and consisting wholly of “orchestral tissue without music” — of one very long, gradual crescendo. There are no contrasts, and practically no invention except the plan and the manner of execution.”

Angélique’s vocal adaptation of the Boléro is called “Lonlon”, and she sings almost all of the instrumental parts of the score in the Mina language of Benin.

I dig the repetition – and the influences from all around the globe which simply cannot be pinned down. Russian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, African, take your pick! She has a great imagination – and this one’s another winner.

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