Author Topic: Debussy's Corner  (Read 55067 times)

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Offline Bogey

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2007, 07:48:50 AM »
I was just looking for a biography on Debussy, without any luck. Does anyone know of an authoritative text?

Try ebay Corey, I believe you will find a handful there.

http://books.search.ebay.com/debussy_Books_W0QQ_trksidZm37QQcatrefZC12QQfromZR40QQsacatZ267
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2007, 06:14:00 PM »
Well, you were asserting that nothing since has equalled it.  You were asking for it to be knocked down a peg or three.

Hey, you don't have to blame Debussy merely because I fail at life.


karlhenning

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2007, 06:15:48 PM »
Hey, you don't have to blame Debussy merely because I fail at life.

I don't blame Debussy for not being otherwise than himself  8)

Offline techniquest

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2007, 11:41:13 PM »
Did anyone see the LSO / Gergiev concert on BBC4 last Friday (21st)? They played 3 Preludes which had been orchestrated by Colin Matthews, one of which was the beautiful 'Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir’. Fascinating arrangements.
By the way (and don't shoot me for this), has anyone heard the album 'The Seduction of Claude Debussy' by The Art of Noise?

Offline Montpellier

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2007, 12:02:57 PM »
I couldn't shoot someone at this time of year. 

I'll just turn the other way...

;)


pjme

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2007, 12:29:30 PM »
Belgian composer Luc Brewaeys orchestrated the Préludes - recently- aswell. International press was very positive.

Excellent performance by the Antwerp P.O :Daniele Callegari.




"Danse sacrée et danse profane" is indeed a magical work ( in his letters, Francis Poulenc mentions it as one of the works that brought him to classical music).

Early Debussy can be quite interesting : the pianotrio (1880!), the Fantaisie for piano and orchestra
( excellent version with Zoltan Kocsis) !

The late sonatas are exquisite .


Offline Montpellier

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2007, 03:35:22 PM »
I'll merely register disapproval of people who "orchestrate" Debussy's Prèludes.  I met Debussy in one of the interior spiritual spaces (he and I seem to have a point chaud in common, and he was fateful, saying if he wanted them for orchestra he'd had written them for orchestra....I'll add that I'm a little inebriated but inner contacts sometime happen like that.  He suggested I did a rewrite of La Mer for electric guitar, bass and Micro-Korg,   

Last spring I was home long enough to play in our local (amateur) orch.   As usual the program needed a filler so one of the aspiring(?) arrangers ran up Clair de Lune....in Db of all keys.  I had a go about his choice of key - why not D Major because it would be vasstly simpler for most players.   He said "no, it'll sound different and out of character."  But blimey, was my retort - it's going to sound different for orchestra anyway and you might as well make it accessible to less accomplished players.   But no.  It ended up sounded more like some Penderecki in the Moonlight.   

Danse Sacré is magical, as is Jeux.   
« Last Edit: December 23, 2007, 03:39:00 PM by Anacho »

Ephemerid

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2008, 08:00:52 PM »
Oh, I adore Debussy's music-- back in the summer of 2006, I went on a crazy shopping spree & bought up at least one good recording of all his major works as well as many of his lesser known ones. 

Pelleas & Melisande, The Afternoon of a Faun, the Nocturnes, La Mer, the Preuldes all go without saying as being "must" when delving into Debussy (and there's so much more!), but I'll bring up a few lesser known ones:

The three sonatas (cello & piano / flute, viola & harp / violin & piano) are marvellous.  What a shame that his life was cut short-- these pieces (and En Blanc et Noir & Jeux) showed he was expanding his musical vocabulary in an exciting new direction. 

Danse sacree et profane is a lovely little gem.

Syrinx for solo flute is a fascinating piece.

Its really hard to go wrong with Debussy-- there's something so utterly magical about his music (when it is performed right-- Debussy is very easy to perform sloppily).

As far as recordings go, I prefer Boulez' for the orchestral works.  Zimmerman's recordings of the Preludes are gorgeous & Pollini's Etudes are spot on.

Offline Montpellier

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2008, 03:13:02 PM »
Jeux is indeed a most mysterious piece, written to a ballet libretto it had to satisfy Nijinsky, yet is never subordinate to the dance.  As his last large orchestral work it had to advance him and how!  The moves between chromatic, diatonic and modal are imperceptive unless you're looking out for them.  The work has no "main themes" unless you regard the motive that enters 2 bars after rehearsal 6 as a main theme.  If so it only appears for a few bars in the whole work.  His use of whole-tone scales occurs only in the prelude and coda (postlude?) rehearsal 81. 
 
.

paulb

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2008, 06:49:31 AM »
Have so much to say on Debussy. Towering high creative genius in 20th C music, and yet never allows us to forget that idyllic past.  Much to say, for later.........
« Last Edit: January 28, 2008, 10:14:44 AM by paulb »

Offline scottscheule

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2008, 09:37:08 AM »
I, too, find the preludes to be one of the best piano cycles of all time.  I don't (think I) agree with Karl's description of them as uneven. 

Like commenters above, Jeux mystifies me.  Or maybe it just leaves me cold.  Images, too, I can do without. 

I don't know if anyone's mentioned the Nocturnes, but Les Nuages is lovely.  La Mer has grown better and better with every listening.  La Prelude is amazing, but one does grow tired of it.

Some very good songs, too.

Debussy was my first classical love.  Of course, I tired of him--someday I'll return, I'm sure.  But even now, I have the utmost respect for his abilities.  The exotic harmonies are a big reason.  But following along the preludes, one also finds an exquisite sense of form.  He can say so much with so little--compare Mahler, who can say so much with so much.

paulb

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2008, 10:17:26 AM »
I, too, find the preludes to be one of the best piano cycles of all time.  I don't (think I) agree with Karl's description of them as uneven. 



First Book  Preludes, all masterpieces. Now the 2nd Bk, its not as consistently on that same level of creative expression found in the 1st Bk. I've noticed others  feel the same way.

Ephemerid

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2008, 06:21:53 PM »
First Book  Preludes, all masterpieces. Now the 2nd Bk, its not as consistently on that same level of creative expression found in the 1st Bk. I've noticed others  feel the same way.
Yes, the first book is extraordinarily good, whereas the 2nd book is not quite as remarkable (except for Brouillards, which is amazing)-- good music, but definitely not Debussy at his best.

Offline Guido

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2008, 04:10:41 PM »
That's certainly a work comparable with P+M in many ways, yes. And an equally fine piece, too.

Of course, Eric has set us a very small target, however - his criterion for acceptance of a work as P+M's equal is that the work must be precisely as x, y and z as P+M. Which therefore means P+M and no other work. Which therefore means Eric can keep patting himself on that back, reassuring himself that, yes, he's right, there's nothing quite equal to  P+M. Problem is, in doing so, Eric forgets about a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i and all the other features one could find pleasurable in a piece of music.

So I could recommend pieces and composer to Eric - Takemitsu would be an obvious one. But Takemitsu, for all the extraordinary sensous refinement of his music, didn't write Pelleas et Melisande, and so therefore Eric can happily discard him.

The logic is flawless!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

greg

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2008, 04:16:20 PM »
I've recommended Takemitsu as well, though I'm not sure if Eric has heard any of his stuff.
Especially sensuous are his quotations from La Mer.  0:)

karlhenning

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #35 on: October 12, 2008, 04:31:04 PM »
The logic is flawless!

And economical of neurological demands!  Why, the brain of a chipmunk could handle it!

Homo Aestheticus

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #36 on: October 12, 2008, 08:09:41 PM »
Like Bluebeard's Castle. Listen to it Eric.

Guido,

I know Bartok's opera well through the Boulez recording with Jessye Norman.

Sorry but it was a 'forgettable' work for me... And yes, I have seen it coupled with  P&M  in books and commentaries but it makes no difference to me. And the opening of  Bluebeard.... Ugh!  So "rough".   :-[ 

I was dying to go back to Debussy's incomparable prelude to Act 1 - how those divided and muted cellos, double-basses and bassoons intone that solemn and brooding theme...

Ah, such divine and exquisite romanticism...   0:)


Homo Aestheticus

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #37 on: October 12, 2008, 08:11:01 PM »
However, I don't think the 'exquisiteness' of Pelleas et Melisande puts it in a class apart - there are any number of works equally exquisite, equally sensitive and sensuous (if these are the sorts of adjectives that appeal to you most). Why limit yourself?

My esteemed Luke, I am afraid that here you are mistaken...  :)

Review the critical commentary on  P&M  over the past 100 years (all of the books, reviews, monographs, etc) and catalogue the number of times you see the following words:

Unique, refined, exquisite, sensitive, delicate beauty, individual harmonies, atmospheric, blended subtlety and simplicity, sophistication, grave reticence, lovely, eloquence, otherworldly, enchanting, hypnotic, sui generis.

And then compare it against Bartok's  Bluebeard Castle  (or anything by Stravinsky for that matter)

Do you see now ? There is something VERY special here and both the music scholars and general opera public have recognized this.

This is not to take away from Stravinsky's greatness as a composer but there is just no comparing the sophistication, refinement and exquisiteness found in Debussy's opera to anything by Stravinsky (or Bartok). 

And here is another review [excerpted] from Lawrence Gilman:

"This is a score rich in beauty and strangeness, yet the music has often a deceptive naïveté, a naïveté that is so extreme that it reveals itself, finally, as the quintessence of subtlety and reticence...  And it is a 'a magic orchestra'—an orchestra of indescribable richness, delicacy, and suppleness—an orchestra that melts and shimmers with opalescent hues—an orchestra that has substance without density, sonority without blatancy, refinement without thinness..."

One more point:

P&M  is not a 'modernist drama par excellence' as some perverse directors and conductors have said in recent years. .... Listen folks, it was composed in the final years of  the 19th century  -  it is a work of post-Wagnerian impressionist decadence and romanticism. 



Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #38 on: October 12, 2008, 08:32:51 PM »
One more point:

P&M  is not a 'modernist drama par excellence' as some perverse directors and conductors have said in recent years. .... Listen folks, it was composed in the final years of  the 19th century  -  it is a work of post-Wagnerian impressionist decadence and romanticism. 

No, Pink. Your vaunted Karajan is guilty of making P&M sound as if it's Parsifal's offspring but that's not what Debussy intended.

Debussy sought to move away from the Wagnerian ethos in the theater. And any good French recording will show you the modernism in it.

Further, trying to deny Debussy's place in the modernist spectrum is like denying the sun emits light. You can't win. The facts are that Debussy lead the charge straight into modernism. Deal with it.

 

Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Debussy's Corner
« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2008, 08:36:05 PM »
Logic bounces off the Ardent Pelleastre like a brick off a steam ship.

We'll never win him over that way.



Sad, but true! ;D



« Last Edit: February 01, 2009, 09:07:56 AM by donwyn »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach