Mother Goose Suite

I. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant. Lent (Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty); II. Petit Poucet. Trčs modéré (Hop o'My Thum); III. Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes. Mouvement de Marche (Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas); IV. Les entretiens de la Belle et de la B%u0119te. Mouvement de Valse modéré (Beauty and the Beast Converse); V. Le jardin féerique. Lent et grave (Fairy Garden)


“Ravel commands an enchanted world. It is a land populated by children, divinities, fairies, tender animals, apparitions, soulless ogres and hours that last forever” – wrote Roland-Manuel, one of the most authentic chroniclers of Ravel's art.
Ravel wrote his suite Mother Goose for piano duet in 1908, and following its successful premiere in 1910, reworked it for orchestra. The ensuing ballet also received a triumph reception in 1912. One of the principal roles was danced by the legendary Vaclav Nijinsky, who later recalled Mother Goose as one of his favourites “Dancing to Ravel's music is an elevating experience: I rarely feel more comfortable than when in this role.”


The music has a literary antecedent, namely Charles Perrrault's 17th century collection of fairy tales. Ravel links the characters from these enchanting stories with diverse dances – perhaps this is one of the secrets to the magic of the composition. Mother Goose was originally written for two children, Jean and Mimi Godebski. Ravel was only too glad to tell the children fairy stories, principally when he was bored of the high flown aesthetic theorising that would occasionally prevail in the Godebski salon. “I very much liked Ravel” – recalled Mimi Godebski as an adult. “He would sit me on his knee and then commence with “Once upon a time, long, long ago…”


He related the story of Laideronnette and Beauty and the Beast, and most of all, he would tell of the adventures of an impoverished mouse – I think he invented this just for me. There was something childlike and tender in his face, which he bashfully attempted to conceal. The facial features, which were energetic and then stern by turns, made an interesting contrast with his music, where meaning and intellect did not always cover the passions of the heart (…) Ravel would have loved my brother and I to give the public premiere of the Mother Goose piano duet. This idea considerably alarmed me (…) and I we had to renounce this fine idea. My mother dejectedly accepted that I am not a child prodigy, nor even especially talented.”

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