Mother Goose. Ravel originally wrote the work as a piano duet suite for Cyprian Godebski’s daughters. Unlike his other “impressionist” works, Ravel is more explicit with the different scenes he is trying to evoke through the music, perhaps for the benefit and wonder of the children he wrote it for. Later, he transcribed it for orchestra, and this five movement suite became the most popularly heard form. He’d later revise the work again and turn it into a full ballet. Each movement is based on a different fairy tale by different French authors. The opening pavane for the sleeping beauty is reminiscent of his earlier pavane for a dead princess. Funny how the poetry of comparing “sleeping” and “death” fits here, because both pieces have similar syntax. The next is based off of a French variation of Little Tom Thumb, about a tiny boy and his adventures in our world, except for him it is the world of giants. In the orchestral suite there are bird calls in the delicate melody. Empress of the Pagodas is a reference to The Green Serpent, and it makes use of the pentatonic scale to emphasize the Chinese setting. The Conversation between the Beauty and the Beast is an intimate swaying number that makes me think of Satie’s Gymnopedies from a few decades before. Beast’s part of the dialogue is a low growl, more sinister than he intends. The Fairy Garden is the only part of the suite that doesn’t have a clear reference or inspiration. In the ballet, it’s used as the ending of Sleeping Beauty’s story, where she wakes up in a garden surrounded by fairies. If we take that interpretation, it makes this suite feel like a closed loop, showing the “dead” princes coming to “life” in this magical world of fairies and wonder that all of these tales exist in.
1. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant [after Charles Perrault]
2. Petit Poucet [after Charles Perrault]
3. Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes [after Madame d’Aulnoy
4. Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête [after Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont]
Katherine gave him a stern glance, “No, this is important. We have an entire Sob living under this city, they could wake up any day, and who knows how long they have been down there.” She pulled out her feather and began to write.
“Fine,” He complied, “How did you take care of them last time?”
She didn’t look up from Qwerty as she flipped through the pages, “Walt and I blew up the cave.”
“Perfect! Let’s do that!”
Katherine swirled to him incredulously, “Jack, that was a vacant lot; his one is under and entire city!”