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Debussy

Discussion in 'classical' started by Tony L, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. droodzilla

    droodzilla pfm Member

    tuga likes this.
  2. lordsummit

    lordsummit Moderator

    If you’re free on Saturday bob round to ours and we’ll have a listen to some stuff. Eat food and drink wine as well obviously...
     
  3. droodzilla

    droodzilla pfm Member

    Thanks, will do!
     
    lordsummit likes this.
  4. lordsummit

    lordsummit Moderator

    Ha, a reply that was meant to be a text!
     
    droodzilla likes this.
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The postman handed me the Fergus-Thompson set earlier. A bargain as it is the original stand-alone CDs in an outer slip-case, not a budget reissue and it is mint too. Playing the first disc now and it is superb. A beautiful piano sound (I may actually prefer it to the Ogawa) and similarly wonderful playing. I’ve not got to comparing pieces yet, but my impression at just track four disc one is this really is very good indeed. If I had to make a generalisation (which will likely be proved wrong on comparison) I suspect he uses a bit more sustain pedal than Ogawa, which lends more of a ‘stillness’ to the more ambient pieces, which I think I like. IIRC the pedals are up to the player rather than being scored with much of this stuff.
     
  6. mjw

    mjw pfm Member

    Tony, is track 4 the Claire de lune? It’s a short, simple piece that we can all get very familiar with. Perhaps try a back to back comparison with Ogawa when you really get to know it and try to decide which you find the most moving (although it’s difficult not to be moved by it).
    Anyway, glad it’s all worked out for you - they’re both excellent sets and there’s probably no such thing as too much Debussy.

    Edit - I’ll stand by the original post rather than delete it but, on reflection, it would only be valid predicated on you having to decide which box to keep and you’ll likely keep both so it seems a bit daft on a re-read. I guess I had in mind that, rather than the relentless pursuit of detail and fidelity (that I gave up on long ago) this music, as much as any other, demands to be felt and the occasional lapse in technique or presentation can easily be forgiven.
    Enjoy
    Mick
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  7. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Don't miss the chamber vocal music, especially the 'Chansons de Bilitis', which is my favourite Debussy piece. Cathy Berberian's version is unparalleled. I've listened to many contemporary versions, and the only one that comes close for me is Karina Gauvin. She really has the combination of exquisite tone and intimate drama that you need for these pieces. Her cd with Marc Andre Hamelin, 'Fetes Galantes' is a good introduction to French Chanson at the fin de siecle. The versions of Faure's En Sourdine, Clair de Lune, and Aurore are wonderful. Also the Ravel Greek melodies. 'La bas, vers l'eglise' is one of the most ravishing two minutes in French music (which means all music).
     
  8. mjw

    mjw pfm Member

    How you getting on, Tony? Chosen a favourite? Keeping both?
     
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I’ll likely keep both. They are sufficiently different to be worthwhile. Some pieces I prefer the Ogawa, in fact the first piece I AB’d was Snow Is Dancing (I only know it from the Tomita version!) and I much prefer her timing and dynamic there, but other pieces I really like and may prefer the F-T. I’ve not found any other piece I feel as strongly about either way. Both are clearly excellent.
     
  10. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Radio 3 Record Review has a panel discussion of recent Debussy boxed sets this morning (I think 10.40). I'm currently listening to Slint, so probably too big a journey to get back to Debussy, but I'll listen on iPlayer later.
     
  11. docstocker

    docstocker pfm Member

  12. matt j

    matt j pfm Member

  13. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    I don't know that specific recording by Alain Planès, but he recently gave a series of concerts of Debussy's piano music, which were broadcast by France Musique - the first is here, and is still available for a week or so, along with the other three. On the strength of these, I like his approach to Debussy - I'd probably say that he emphasises the underlying strength of the music, rather than the sensuous & impressionistic elements, which does contrast with some of the other pianists already mentioned in this thread, but it is a valid and interesting interpretation.

    I've been re-reading Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu in recent weeks, and I think there's a case to be made for Debussy to be the model for Vinteuil, who writes the sonata with a phrase so important to Swann - the way the phrase is described when it is played on the piano makes me think of Images. Anyone else have a view on this?
     
  14. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    I really liked the Raul Riz adaptation, 'Time Regained', although I've not seen it since it was first released. I'd be interested to go back to it and hear what music they used. I thought the Vinteuil sonata was meant to be a violin sonata, or piano and violin sonata. I'm not sure Debussy's Violin Sonata would fit, but my only reason for saying that is the Spanish and gypsy influences - I love this aspect of the Sonata, but somehow it doesn't feel very Proustian to me.
     
  15. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    There was a film version of Swann's Way about 30 years ago, Jeremy Irons was swanning around making a fool of himself, and the music was by Hans-Werner Henze. It was pure purgatory.

    Everyone knows that the Bolton Choral Society gave the best musical interpretation of Proust, many years ago. Approx 3mins in....
     
  16. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    Swann does indeed hear it first as a sonata for violin and piano, but it is the piano part that holds the key musical phrase, and it is on the piano alone that the piece is played at the Verdurin's, when Swann realises he is in love with Odette;

    The year before, at an evening party, he had heard a piece of music played on the piano and violin. At first he had appreciated only the material quality of the sounds which those instruments secreted. And it had been a source of keen pleasure when, below the narrow ribbon of the violin-part, delicate, unyielding, substantial and governing the whole, he had suddenly perceived, where it was trying to surge upwards in a flowing tide of sound, the mass of the piano-part, multiform, coherent, level, and breaking everywhere in melody like the deep blue tumult of the sea, silvered and charmed into a minor key by the moonlight. But at a given moment, without being able to distinguish any clear outline, or to give a name to what was pleasing him, suddenly enraptured, he had tried to collect, to treasure in his memory the phrase or harmony—he knew not which—that had just been played, and had opened and expanded his soul, just as the fragrance of certain roses, wafted upon the moist air of evening, has the power of dilating our nostrils.

    It's this kind of description of piano music that makes me think of Debussy, and Images. It's last heard by Swann as an arrangement for small orchestra, which ironically makes Swann realise that his love for Odette has passed.
     
  17. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Thanks for quoting the passage. I love Proust's way of conveying the materiality of sound. It's always surprised me that he was such a follower of Ruskin, when aesthetically he seems so close to Walter Pater, who has a similar way of writing about sound in his essay 'The School of Giorgione' (an essay that is very close in sensibility to Debussy's music, although it is written earlier, in 1877).

    Regarding the specific piece, the passage above gives the violin the role of 'governing the whole' - and its an unyielding way of governing - but it's the 'mass of the piano part ... breaking everywhere in melody' that carries his memory and emotion. That is really our only specific musical clue, aside from the metaphor of 'minor key' moonlight, because we then return to his affective response, and the synaesethetic analogy that follows.

    The way Proust writes about music is coming from a very particular fin-de-siecle tradition; it all stems from Baudelaire (and Baudelaire gets it from Wagner and Delacroix), and then Huysmanns clarifies it in 'Against Nature', which is obsessed with synaesthesia (and is, in my view, a key text for hi-fi enthusiasts!) This same French tradition was fundamental to Debussy of course.
     
  18. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    Not only does Proust write convincingly about sound and music, there are entire sections, over many pages, which are clearly structured in similar ways to extended musical pieces, and allusions to pivotal works like Tristan und Isolde. This reminds me very strongly of Joyce, particularly episodes like Penelope in Ulysses, and Anna Livia Plurabelle in Finnegans Wake. If only I had the time to do some formal research into these kinds of connections.
     
  19. lordsummit

    lordsummit Moderator

    There’s a look at Debussy this morning on R3 Record Review. Started at 9:30. Well worth a listen so far.
     
  20. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    I was at Glyndebourne yesterday, for their production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, with Christina Gansch as Mélisande, John Chest as Pelléas, and Christopher Purves as Golaud, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Robin Ticciati.

    The singers and orchestra were very good (not outstanding), but what really stood out was the at times bizarre production by the Norwegian Stefan Herheim. Some elements worked exceptionally well - in the centre of the stage was a space that rose and fell, changing from being a pool, to the ocean, to an altar, to a dining table, a death-bed, and so on. At the very start, a figure descended into this space, clutching the space above him. This is nowhere in Debussy’s stage directions, and I took it to prefigure Golaud’s descent from jealousy to murderous rage. Many of the stage directions deepened the text - Golaud enmeshed with Pelléas et Mélisande as they met for the last time, emphasising the psychological torture he suffers, and even two Mélisandes on stage at one time, one being the dying physical body and the other the escaping soul. But other elements were odd and unfathomable - a figure of Christ appearing with a lamb draped across his shoulders elicited laughter, rather than deepening the symbolism of the libretto. Similarly, Golaud’s assault of Yniold was crude and unnecessary, and highlighted the main weakness of the production, in that the coup de foudre between Pelléas and Mélisande was understated, and Golaud was in a jealous rage from early on, rather than moving from confusion and disbelief towards the jealousy and rage that leads him to murder Pelléas. This is the backbone of the opera, and if weakened, odd symbols and artefacts introduced into the production don’t compensate.

    I know the opera fairly well - alongside Wagner's and Janacek’s operas, I listen to this probably 3 or 4 times a year, and on balance I was rather underwhelmed by the production, while very much enjoying the singing and orchestra. Has anyone else seen this - if so, what did you think? This was my first time at Glyndebourne - what a wonderful place - and hopefully we will be able to return next year.
     

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