A bolero or three

One of the best bits of Nodame Cantabile was the classical music used – I’d read somewhere that when the live-action aired, it got a whole crowd of drama-watchers interested in classical music, and that’s no mean feat. Besides featuring the masterpieces of the various greats, it was also fun for me to figure out the classical pieces used as background music. One obvious example was the use of Ravel’s Bolero in episode 8 – the music started from Nodame’s arrival for RS Orchestra’s first concert to Kuroki’s entrance as the oboe player for Mozart’s delightful Oboe Concerto in C Major.


I love this bit because the music starts out soft, and then has a mini climax when Kiyora makes her entrance as the concert mistress and lead violinist. It then reaches a powerful finale with Kuroki’s entrance and ends off beautifully as Chiaki steps up on his conductor stand, surveys his orchestra (in fantastic slow-mo, Tamaki Hiroshi is awesome every time he does this) and exchanges quiet, firm nods with Kuroki. I’ve watched this segment any number of times and still love how the bolero was timed so well for the entrances of the various characters of the orchestra. The “first” crescendo heightened Kiyora’s anxiety because she wanted so desperately to perform well in front of her teacher, and the finale emphasised Kuroki’s confidence and determination to repay the faith everyone had in him.

Ravel’s Bolero is a wonderful piece of music (it reappears in the first film for Chiaki’s ill-fated first performance with the Roux-Marlet orchestra), a one-movement orchestral piece that is probably his most famous work. It starts out soft, but as the music builds and the various instruments come together, you have to marvel at the magic, the beautiful synchrony of it all. I think the most difficult has to be the snare drum in keeping the rhythm consistent throughout.


Another example is in episode 1, when Chiaki tells Nodame (after the fiasco with Milch) that he sees no point in continuing the charade of guiding her because she doesn’t want to practise and he’s not interested in teaching her either. Nodame senses there’s more to it but can’t voice her concerns and leaves dejectedly. Chiaki then slumps to the floor, defeated. In this segment, Beethoven’s Pathetique was used to perfection to show Chiaki’s despair at never being able to achieve his dreams of being a conductor. I love how it captured Chiaki’s desolation in that scene, and how it was first used as the music that drew Chiaki to Nodame. It’s just brilliant how a piece can be employed for two very different scenes with varying emotions. But then that is the wonderful world of classical music, and of Nodame and Chiaki.


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