Our first piece for this week: Ravel’s Une Barque sur L’Ocean. In this video, for every new moment in the music, the picture of the boat changes to match the feeling. My favorite painting is the ship in the storm at about 1:50… those sailors are doing their utmost to make it through the worst of the storm.
Our second piece for this week: Aquarium from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. Instead of creating waves of sound to imitate the waves of the ocean, Saint-Saens chooses to create a magical soundscape to evoke the mysterious underwater world. The video is footage from an aquarium in Japan, full of enormous whale sharks and rays.
Here is one artist’s take on the story this music tells: in a magical underworld, will a lonely hermit crab ever see her lost partner again?
And lastly, we have a Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music suite, written for King George I, and performed on a barge sailing down the Thames. This music doesn’t “feel” like water at all, because Handel wasn’t trying to paint a picture like Ravel and Saint-Saens were. Handel had a very different purpose for composing than Ravel and Saint-Saens, he was writing “party music” for a King–and the King seems to have been pleased, since he asked for the music to be repeated three times.
If you’re curious, a Hornpipe is a kind of dance … Watch this video to see how a king’s court might have partied to this music.