Booklet Livia Rev Debussy Hyperion

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  • Piano Music by Claude Debussy

    CD1 : CDS44061 60H0 S U I T E BERGAMASQUE 1890 revised 1905

    0 Prlude [4'10] [U Menuet [3'44] [U Clair de lune [4*32] H Passepied [3*35]

    P O U R LE PIANO 1894/1901 |U Prlude . [4'04] [6] Sarabande [5*33] [7] Toccata [4'15]

    ESTAMPES 1903 [8] Pagodes [4*54] [9] La soire dans Grenade [4'45] [w] Jardins sous la pluie [3'56]

    CHILDREN'S C O R N E R 1908 [] Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum [2'13] H Jimbo's Lullaby [3'16] [1 Serenade for the Doll [2'39] 0 T h e snow is dancing [2*40] [ 1 T h e Little Shepherd [2'14] QU Golliwogg's Cake-walk [3'06]

    CD2 : CDS44062 6475 IMAGES Set 1 1905

    Reflets dans l'eau [5*01] H] Hommage Rameau [6'43] \T\ Mouvement [3*52] a LTSLE J O Y E U S E 1904 [6*24]

    PRLUDES Book 1 , 1 9 1 0 HO Danseuses de Delphes [3'26] DD Voiles [3*54]


  • [7] Le vent dans la plaine [2*29] [8] Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir [3'06] [9] Les collines d'Anacapri [3'11] [H Des pas sur la neige [5'09] [] C e qu'a vu le vent d'ouest [3'42] [12] La fille aux cheveux de lin [2*13] [13] La srnade interrompue [2'28] [w] La cathdrale engloutie [6'32] d La danse de Puck [2'53] [ 1 Minstrels [2'29]

    CD3 : CDS44063 . 5932

    P R L U D E S Book 2, 1912/13 G] Brouillards [3*02] [2] Feuilles mortes [3'04] H] La Puerta del Vino [3*14] [4] Les fes sont d'exquises danseuses [3'19] [5] Bruyres [2'59] [6] Gnral Lavine - eccentric [2*51] |T| La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune [4*56] H J ' O n d i n e [3*12] GD Hommage S Pickwick Esq P P M P C [2*35] [ 1 Canope [2'40] [] Les tierces alternes [2'42] [12] Feux d'artifice [4'2l]

    U MASQUES 1904 [5*31]

    IMAGES Set 2, 1908 0 Cloches travers les feuilles [4'35] EU Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut [5'02] BU Poissons d'or [4*28]

    L V I A R V Steinway piano


  • Debussy was one of music's originals, yet like many other composers he found his most personal voice slowly. This is particularly true of his piano music. Here a wide variety of influences are modified and transformed by a playful blend of archaism and evanescence (nostalgia for a past seen through the roseate mists of time) and later give way to something no less fleeting but altogether more personal, complex and idiosyncratic. A gap of twenty-three years separates Debussy's earliest piano piece (the Danse bohmienne of 1880) from his first mature keyboard composition (Estampes, 1903). Then only twelve years remained before his final piano masterpiece, the incomparable Douze Etudes of 1915. From 1903 onwards the piano became Debussy's chosen instrument one which could transcend its supposedly percussive limitations and effortlessly mirror a lavish and limitless capacity for colour and kaleidoscopic harmony. Now, at last, Debussy would be able to indulge his fastidious and exotic strain of hedonism and express the inexpressible, the impression floue at the heart of his combined impressionism and symbolism.

    The Suite Bergamasque (written in 1889/90 but not published until 1905) is an exquisitely-mannered idealisation of an ancient pastoral tradition "gently inflected by the world of Paul Verlaine" (Cortot). It also suggests Debussy's first steps from early salon evanescence to an altogether more experimental style.

    In the Prlude, flirtations with modal harmony and sly anachronisms combine with a modulatory ease and daring to colour pages delicately alive with memory and prophecy; a vital and fluid mix of quiescence and verve no less present in the Menuet and Passepied. In Clair de lune always heard to best advantage in its full and proper context Debussy achieves a maximum evocation with a rare economy of means, and this silvery and early example of impressionism has rightly been called a first flowering of the essential Debussian atmosphere.

    Pour le Piano (1901) is among Debussy's earliest original piano compositions. Not without the charm and archaism of the Suite Bergamasque it is altogether more vigorous, its mix of abstraction and evocation prophetic of much to come. Here Debussy returns to a clarity which has its origins in the works of the finest old French masters, in Rameau and Couperin, but his writing is also alive with idiosyncrasy, with abrupt glissandi and aerial cadenzas which shimmer with alternately modal and whole-tone scales.

    An earlier version of the Sarabande had already appeared in the Images oublies of 1894, though by 1901 Debussy had refined its grace and formality. Crystalline textures are again characteristic of the Toccata accentuated by fierce syncopation and, in the central pages, by


  • a melody which breaks free of its confines to soar, finally liberated, as if on the crest of a giant wave. Emile Vuillermoz, one of the Toccata's earliest admirers, listened in amazement to such music, thinking, "Here is that magician who was refused a piano prize and a harmony prize by the officiai ducation system."

    For Estampes Debussy forged a truly revolutionary pianism, one that would evoke far-away places with an incomparable subtlety and prcision. More practical considrations, too, played their part for, as the composer wryly put it, "When you haven't got the means of paying for your travels, you have to make up for it with your imagination."

    Pagodes is a masterly tribute to the Far East, inspired by the gamelan music first heard by the composer at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. A subtle and audacious play of pentatonic scales surrounds the principal idea before a final rtrospective shimmer that surely has its origins in Ravel's Jeux d'eau of 1901.

    La soire dans Grenade, like La Puerta del Vino in the second book of Prludes, is in habanera rhythm, but here the harsh, angular and volatile puise of Andalusia gives way to something more torpid and perfumed. Manuel de Falla, no less, marvelled at such imaginative power, exclaiming "It really is Andalusia that is presented to us; truth without authenticity, we might say, given that there is not one bar directly taken from Spanish folklore and that, nevertheless the whole piece is redolent of Spain, right down to the tiniest dtail." Later, in 1920, Falla quoted a passage from La soire dans Grenade in his Homenaje 'Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy'.

    Jardins sous la pluie, in contrast to such languor, is another of Debussy's vertiginous toccatas. Two French nursery tunes, like fleeting refugees from Children's Corner, weave their way in and out of the texture, and the capricious and copious downpour of April showers is captured with uncanny prcision. Indeed, so graphie is the effect that one almost sees rain and sunshine and the transfiguring of a previously bedraggled garden with a thousand lights and colours. It is as if the gentle cascades of Pour remercier la pluie au matin from the Epigraphes antiques had been changed into a widely energised, if ultimately benign, life.

    L'isle joyeuse is among Debussy's most exultant crations. Rarely can Jersey (the island of the title and the place of the composer's elopement with Emma Bardac) have prompted a more scintillating tribute, and the mix of complex dance rhythms and surging romantic melody suggests a wholly novel conception of virtuosity. Watteau's L'Embarquement pour Cythre a painting imbued with the very spirit of love was a scarcely less potent influence.

    Masques (1904) is the most enigmatic of Debussian toccatas. Cortot's famous description, 'a riot of Italian comedy', is oddly at variance with the composer's own view. For Debussy,


  • Masques mirrored 'the tragedy of human experience.' Such mystery and ambiguity are at the very heart of Debussy. For him, no less than for Virginia Woolf, life was " . . . not a sris of gig lamps symmetrically arranged, life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist/composer to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible?"

    The first set of Images (1905), as its title dclars, shows a radical departure from tradition. Reflets dans l'eau may have its origins in both Liszt's Les jeux d'eau la Villa d'Est (1877) and RavePs Jeux d'eau (1901), but the final calming of its tumultuous play around the notes A fiat, F and E fiat suggests an ambiguity, a bittersweet transience at the very centre of Debussy's magical and disturbing art.

    Hommage Rameau was inspired by Debussy's work on a version of Rameau's opera, Les Ftes de Polymnie. A considrable advance on the earlier Sarabande in Pour le Piano, its stylish vocation of an earlier ge is whirled into oblivion by Mouvement, an astringent moto perpetuo that gives credence to Stravinsky's claim, "the musicians of my generation and I myself owe the most to Debussy."

    Images Set 2 (1907) was first performed by the indefatigable Ricardo Vines, most enterprising and supportive of pianists where new music was concerned. Cloches travers les feuilles, as much as any Debussy, typifies his desire to write unpercussive music for a percussive instrument, for one 'without hammers'. Here is a timeless and archaic vocation of funeral bells tolling from Ail Saints' Day to Ail Sols' Day, their sad chime echoed by autumnal life and resolved in a final descent of the deepest melancholy. Et la lune descend sur le temple qui ft conveys a mystery enlivened once more by a touch of the Orient.

    Poissons d'or was also inspired by the East or, more specifically, by a piece of Japanese lacquer. Divided roughly into seven sections and