NOVEMBER 16th, 2018 at 19:30
Bernard d’Ascoli pianist
“DEBUSSY IN PERSPECTIVE“
Prelude, Choral and Fugue FWV21 Cesar Franck
Choral. Poco più lento
Fugue. Tempo 1
Six Studies Frėdėric Chopin
Op. 10 N° 12 and 6
Op. 25 N° 5, 10 and 7
Op. 10 N° 4
Valses Nobles et Sentimentales Maurice Ravel
Modéré – très franc
Assez lent – avec une expression intense
Presque lent – dans un sentiment intime
Images book II Claude Debussy
Cloches à travers les feuilles;
Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut
L’îsle joyeuse Claude Debussy
Prélude Choral and Fugue. In 1884 Cesar Franck a very religious man and great organist came to grips with the task of reviving the forms which had moved Bach at a time preoccupied with Wagner and beginning to appreciate Beethoven’s later works. Accordingly, a searchingly ruminative prélude and swiftly running fugue (beginning with angst-laden drama to conclude with triumphantly incandescent peals) were composed together. Only then did the lack of something expressive and architecturally linking become apparent, prompting the composition of the great harped chorale, resounding across the keyboard needing the left hand to reach over into the treble to chime the theme. The upshot is an elaborately figured, chromatically inflected, and texturally rich essay in which doubt with faith, darkness and light, oscillating until a final ecstatic resolution.
Maurice Ravel was intrigued by the waltz genre composing what later would become La valse, in which he tried to epitomise everything this popular genre encompassed. In 1911 he published the piano version of his suite of eight Valses nobles et Sentimentales. The work was first performed at a performance of new works where the composers were not identified which was sponsored to promote the works of more adventurous composers, without “burdening” critics with the attached labels of authorship.
Claude Debussy (along with Maurice Ravel) was a leading exponent of the innovative musical language in the late nineteenth century that is known as French Impressionism. Reflets dans l’eau is one of the many pieces Debussy wrote about water; in particular, light reflecting off its surface. The piece creates an image of water being not quite still, then becoming rapid, then decreasing in motion again. Reflets dans l’eau is also an example of the new tone colours Debussy discovered for the piano in this part of his life, and although he later refined this style, this piece is one of the greatest achievements Debussy reached with the instrument. With respect to the first series of Images, Debussy wrote to his publisher, “Without false pride, I feel that these three pieces hold together well, and that they will find their place in the literature of the piano … to the left of Schumann, or to the right of Chopin”
Cloches à travers les feuilles was inspired by the bells in the church steeple in the village of Rahon in Jura, France. Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon descends on the temple that was) was dedicated to Laloy. The name of the piece, which evokes images of East Asia, was suggested by Laloy a sinologist and employs a gamelan effect of beating of drums.
Poissons d’or may have been inspired by a Chinese lacquer artwork or it may have been inspired by actual goldfish swimming in a bowl.
L’îsle joyeuse was inspired by Watteau’s painting Embarkation for Cythere. The work is a single movement in a highly modified sonata form like Chopin’s alteration of sonata form in his ballades and the lyrical second subject returns at the brilliant conclusion as fortissimo paean. There is an orchestral quality with an unrelenting choreographic rhythmic drive. The cumulative effect is perfectly calculated and overwhelmingly successful. Debussy’s mature style with parallel sonorities, whole-tone structures, multiple layers of sound, atmospheric effects, melodic fragmentation are all to be heard.
We thank you all for your support over the years and have concerts for 2019 which we will let you know later. Meanwhile have a good Christmas and a very happy New Year.