Saxophone Quartet (SATB)
The Three Songs (Trois Chansons) dating from 1914/15 were arranged for four a cappella voices by Ravel immediately after he had written the music of these pieces. The lyrics were penned by the composer himself. The songs represent Ravel’s sole contribution to choral literature.
The first song consists of three sections and tells the story of Nicolette, who sets out to pick flowers in the fields. Just like Little Red Ridinghood, she meets a wolf who asks her if she is on her way to her grandmother’s house (M.1-13). Fleeing from him, she meets a page who wonderswhether she would like to have him as her “lover true”. She dismisses his proposition though she finds it hard to do so (M. 14-39). In the third section, she encounters a plump, unhandsome man (lento!). He speaks to her:”Stay, stay, my Nicolette, all this gold I give to thee”, and - “VIVO” - Nicolette takes refuge in his arms. (M.40 to end).
The Three Lovely Birds from Paradise are sky-blue, white as fallen snow and bright red - just like the colors of the Tricolore, the national flag of France - which has been interpreted in many reviews as a sign of an increasingly nationalistic attitude becoming apparent in the war year of 1914. This song mourns the loss of the beloved one who went to war.
The Ronde is also made up of three sections. The old women are the first to sing (M.1-28). They warn the young maidens against entering the forest since it is inhabited by all kinds of dangerous (male) beasts. Then (M. 29 – 56) the old men warn the young lads against going into the woods because of the numerous (female) demons living there. The irony of the story is to be found in the final answer of the young people (as of M. 57), who conclude: “We will not go into the woods since the old folks have frightened off all the beasts, anyway.”