22.08.2020

The exceptional recording of Claude Debussy compositions, performed by the author

Claude Debussy is the eminent French composer and a leading exponent of the Impressionism genre in music. In our new musical compilation – the preludes from the cycle that Debussy created by the end of his career, thereby, in fact, he completed the development of this genre in the Western European music, the most significant examples of which were the preludes by Bach and Chopin. With this composition, Debussy summed up his entire work and expressed everything that was most characteristic in the sphere of musical language, content, poetic images and individual style. The power of a prelude to embody separate, successive impressions, the absence of obligatory schemes in the composition, the improvisatory freedom of expression - all this was close to the aesthetic views and artistic methods of the impressionist composer. The influence of Modest Mussorgsky is clearly traced in the composer’s creative work, the suite of ten pieces “Pictures at the Exhibition”, mainly.

The whole cycle consists of twenty-four preludes, each with its own flagship title, indicated only at the end of the piece (by this the composer emphasizes the unwillingness to "impose" his conception on the performer and listener), which practically is never associated with a literary source. Each prelude also has a perfectly finished and harmonic form.

The cycle opens with The Danseuses de Delphes” prelude. The exalted beauty of the marble sculptures of the antique bas-relief evoked bright musical and poetic associations in the composer’s mind. The sculptural group of three dancers on a fragment of the Greek temple, the copy of which Debussy saw at the Louvre exposition, inspired him. The music impresses with its exceptional plasticity of slow, smooth movements.

At the same time, Debussy follows his own intonation paths, on the one hand, vivifying the techniques of medieval organum, and on the other, brilliantly using the techniques of impressionistic tone painting.

Among the preludes by Debussy, which have a literary or pictorial source, “La Cathedrale engloutie” stands out. This prelude was created by the composer under the impression of a Breton legend about the ancient city of Ys, once swallowed by the sea and, according to the stories of anglers, sometimes rising from the waves at dawn with the sounds of distant ringing bells. In the interpretation of this plot, Debussy was far from romantically condensed and religiously mystical shades that could impart overtones to this dramatic legend. Its epic and figurative aspect attracted the composer. The epic beginning is embodied in the prelude not only by the calm, leisurely nature of its development, and by applying stylistic features characteristic of medieval music as well.

The genre basis of the prelude and the means of musical expression are subordinated to the task of the most subtle reproduction in music of the seascape, the gradually dissipating fog and the approaching dawn, the bell-ringing coming from the depths of the sea, and, finally, the rising city. In just five pages, Debussy managed to create the entire poem, written with unique skill.

“La Danse de Pack” is a prelude dedicated to the impressions from “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by W. Shakespeare. Many subtle coloristic effects are reflected in it.

The musical selection includes another work by the composer - the play "The Island of Joy", written by Debussy in 1904. This is a joyful and bright period in the composer's life, when he was happily married to the French singer Emma Bardac and even dedicated this work to her. Another source of inspiration for the creation of this prelude was the painting "The Embarkation for Cythera" by the French painter of the 18th century Jean-Antoine Watteau. Never again has Debussy been able to express with such force the unrestrained impulse to happiness in his piano compositions.

One of the most recognizable and famous is rightfully considered the best part of “The Suite Bergamasque” – nocturne “Clair de lune”, one of the most charming inspirations of the tender and fragile romanticism of the early Debussy, who reverently and carefully implemented musical harmonical means in composition at that time, finding subtle and refined among them.

Source: Belcanto.ru