Ravel’s timeless suite of fairy-tale miniatures is an exercise of exquisite, restrained grace and innocence. Emerging from a piano suite, this full ballet music contains his musical fingerprint at every turn: melodies are clear, the orchestration is elegant, rhythms are precise, and the harmonies evoke a delicate, magical world. Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn) was an anthology of German folk music and folklore published in 1805 and 1808, which, over many years, with its tales of love, mystery, horror, magic and humour, captivated Mahler. As well as using texts from it in his Second, Third and Fourth symphonies he also composed a number of independent song settings. A journey deep into the woods and your imagination is painted by British composer Grace-Evangeline Mason, transporting you somewhere intimate and yet, surreal. There’s good reason why Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel has kept its place in the repertoire, so lyrical are its tunes and so Romantic their orchestration. Modeled after Wagner but with his own brand of instantly loveable songs, and remarkable gift for melody – at times the music almost glows with its innocence and peaceful spirit.
Watch the BSO perform an excerpt from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, recorded in October 2020.