Maurice Ravel

Ma mère l'oye, ballet for orchestra, M. 60

    Description by Chris Morrison

    Maurice Ravel often remarked on the kinship he felt with children. When he met artist Cyprian Godebski in 1904, he also quickly befriended Godebski's two young children, Mimie and Jean, for whom he wrote a set of five simple pieces for piano, four hands, based on several of their favorite fairy tales, including some from Charles Perrault's collection of Mother Goose stories. The Mother Goose Suite proved to be too difficult for them to play, so the first public performance, in Paris on April 20, 1910, featured Jeanne Leleu and Geneviève Durony (themselves both under age 10).

    Several months later, Ravel orchestrated the five pieces, and in 1911 he added another scene along with a prelude and interludes at the request of the impresario Jacques Rouché, who thought the music might work well as a ballet. The ballet, with a scenario by Ravel, was first performed in Paris on January 28, 1912.

    A gentle fanfare opens the work and dominates the opening Prelude. A crescendo leads into the first tableau, "Spinning Wheel Dance and Scene," which depicts the spinning of an old woman working at her wheel. Princess Florine, the Sleeping Beauty, pricks her finger on the spindle and falls asleep. She sleepwalks, accompanied by two guards assigned her by a Good Fairy (the old woman transformed) in the second tableau, "Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty in the Woods." In "Conversations of Beauty and the Beast," Beauty accepts Beast's marriage proposal, and with a harp glissando and a triangle stroke Beast changes into a handsome prince.

    Tom Thumb appears in the fourth tableau, "Hop o' My Thumb." The oboe plays Tom, who is wandering in the woods, dropping bread crumbs behind him to help him find his way out. But birds, heard in trills and harmonics in the violins and woodwinds, eat them up. A pentatonic tune heralds "Laideronnette, Princess of the Pagodas," in which a wicked witch has turned a princess into an Ugly Little Girl. The Girl meets a serpent, and they travel to the country of the Pagodas, tiny people with bodies made of jewels. Tuned percussion evokes the Oriental setting as the Pagodas play for the Girl on instruments made of nutshells. Ultimately the serpent is transformed into his original form as King of the Pagodas, the Girl becomes a princess again, and the two marry. In the concluding "The Fairy Garden," the Prince and Princess Charming are blessed and sent away by the Good Fairy to live happily ever after. The music begins quietly and prettily, builds in a long crescendo, and wedding bells are hinted at in the powerful climax.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude et Danse du Rouet (orchestra, new music)
    2. Danse du Rouet et scène (orchestra, new music)
    3. Pavane de la Belle au Bois dormant
    4. Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête
    5. Petit Poucet
    6. Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes
    7. Le Jardin féerique

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    Challenge Classics
    CC 72757
    2018
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2018
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMX 290892037
    2018
    Warner Classics
    573658
    2018
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMM 905281
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295886691
    2017
    SWR Music
    SWR 19033CD
    2017
    Berlin Classics
    0300880BC
    2016
    Naxos
    8573354
    2016
    Urania
    WS 1212682
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    B002463002
    2015
    Calliope
    CAL 1521
    2015
    PentaTone Classics
    PTC 5186204
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    002894794261
    2015
    Naxos
    8660336
    2015
    Brilliant Classics
    94933BR
    2015
    Warner Classics
    552758
    2014
    Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 14006
    2014
    Haenssler / Hänssler Classic
    933250000000
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88843013332
    2014
    EMI Classics
    2014
    Zig Zag Territoires
    ZZT 343
    2014
    Naïve
    NC 40043
    2013
    Decca
    4785437
    2013
    Tacet
    207SA
    2012
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4790333
    2012
    New York Philharmonic
    NYP 20120103
    2012
    Warner Classics
    2012
    Decca
    4783725
    2012
    Decca
    2011
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099991762
    2011
    RCO Live
    RCO 11004
    2011
    Sony Classical
    8869768968
    2011
    Newton Classics
    88020682
    2011
    Berlin Classics / Edel Music
    0300259 BC
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099964850
    2010
    PentaTone Classics
    518636
    2010
    Documents / Membran
    233017
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    50999906820
    2010
    Alto
    1087
    2010
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    5099996773
    2010
    Testament
    1434
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    ABC Classics
    4764134
    2009
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4778114
    2009
    EMI Classics
    2009
    EMI Classics
    2009
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099926419
    2009
    Decca
    2009
    Decca
    4781734
    2008
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099951456
    2008
    Decca
    4685642
    2007
    Various Artists
    Metro Triples
    833
    2007
    Decca
    2007
    Pentatone Classics
    5186167
    2007
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099950089
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    7243476960
    2006
    Decca
    000771602
    2005
    Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
    4008
    2005
    Decca
    4756891
    2004
    Chandos
    10251
    2004
    Deutsche Grammophon
    477 074-2
    2003
    NM Classics
    97017
    2003
    Sony Classical
    87979
    2003
    Brilliant
    6430
    2003
    Deutsche Grammophon
    474 172-2GEN
    2002
    EMI Music Distribution
    5 75526-2
    2002
    Deutsche Grammophon
    469354
    2002
    Testament
    1264
    2001
    Philips
    464733
    2001
    Arte Nova
    43317
    2001
    EMI Music Distribution
    54204
    2000
    Chandos
    7102
    1999
    Chandos
    9206
    1999
    Decca
    460214
    1999
    Deutsche Grammophon
    457 589-2GH
    1998
    Classic Records
    1025
    1998
    Teldec
    18959
    1998
    Philips
    454452
    1998
    Naxos
    8 554463
    1998
    RCA
    902668978
    1997
    Erato
    14331
    1996
    Globe Records
    6034
    1996
    EMI Music Distribution
    68610
    1996
    Carlton
    6900082
    1995
    Dutton Laboratories
    CDK1201
    1995
    Philips
    442542
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437392
    1994
    Deutsche Grammophon
    1994
    Deutsche Grammophon
    439859
    1994
    Deutsche Grammophon
    439342
    1994
    Chandos
    9203
    1992
    Moss Music Group
    5032
    1992
    Teldec
    74006
    1991
    Astree
    7802
    1990
    Astree
    7800
    1990
    CBS Records
    44800
    1990
    Philips
    400016
    1986
    Deutsche Grammophon
    415972
    1984
    London
    410 254-2DH
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437000
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437006
    Virgin
    790744
    Virgin
    59655
    Denon Records
    75001
    London
    421458
    Virgin
    59657
    Decca
    4757798
    EMI Music Distribution
    68065
    Timpani
    4024
    Virgin
    59659
    EMI Music Distribution
    69165
    Erato
    45231
    Enterprise
    946
    6w
    61
    Collins Records
    3020
    Vox
    5032
    RCA
    14815
    Brilliant
    6430/3
    Supraphon
    110668
    Ades
    20386
    Arkadia
    23
    CRD Records
    3424
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz)
    360