Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
I Fell Off my Magic Cloud
Yesterday, I was driving along the 163 toward downtown to get a costume fitting for Carmen. My seven-year-old daughter was with me and we were listening to Ravel's La Valse.
As the introduction section concluded and the waltz began I said, in my most affected Disney narrator voice, "Oh, I'm floating on a cloud of magic."
Howls of seven-year-old giggling.
Suddenly the tone of the music changed and my daughter decided to make her own joke.
"Help! Help! I fell off my magic cloud." Laugh, laugh, laugh.
I was laughing as well but on the inside I was thinking, "Is it really that obvious? Did my seven year old just school me on Ravel?"
Here's the story on Ravel's Valse.
It started out as a tribute to the waltz. Ravel began to sketch La Valse in 1906 and the original title was Wien (Vienna). His intentions were, “. . . a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz, with which is mingled in my mind the idea of the fantastic whirl of destiny.”
The piece wasn't completed until 1919. The world was changed and Vienna had ceased to exist. The buildings were still there but no one was waltzing. There were real problems in Vienna, such as famine.
Ravel's final version includes this transformation.
There is genius in the fashion with which the waltz theme materializes out of the mists of Ravel's introduction.
As the piece progresses, the waltz becomes distorted and is torn apart by orchestral waves and explosions. The music is out of step and fighting itself.
No more magical clouds.