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Topic: Debussy Piano Pieces  (Read 5352 times)

Offline zhiliang

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Debussy Piano Pieces
on: May 04, 2004, 10:42:33 AM
Hi,

If i have to start somewhere with a Debussy piece ( i have yet to play ANY of his piece yet), considering these 3 points listed below, which one should i attempt first?

1. a short piece
2. great melody
3. one that will make me want to try out other pieces by him  :)

Thanks

Zhiliang
-- arthur rubinstein --

Offline bernhard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #1 on: May 04, 2004, 10:24:36 PM
Page d'album (Album leaf) - This is probably what you are looking for. It is a small, ellegant. delicate and very effective miniature. It is immediately recognisable as Debussy's style. (You may not find a great melody here, but it is only one page long ;)).

La fille aux cheveux de lin (The girl with the flaxen hair) - This is a beautiful piece, as delicate as they come. Very wistful and atmospheric. Wonderful, haunting melody. It is actually surprisingly easy to play once you can sort out all those flats and accidentals! (It has six flats in the key signature!).

Reverie – Achingly beautiful melody, the main difficulty are a few sections with three against two. Easier than Clair de Lune. Debussy actually disliked this piece (it was published without his permission) and he thought it was of inferior quality (How wrong can a composer be?)

Arabesque no. 1 – A much longer piece where again the main difficulty are the sections with three against two. However this is such a beautiful piece that it is worth slaving away at the piano in order to play it.

And of course… Clair de Lune!

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline ayahav

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #2 on: May 05, 2004, 12:33:56 AM
I would suggest any movement from the Children's Corner, but especially "Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum", "Doll's Serenade", or "Golliwog's Cakewalk".
cheers.

Offline zhiliang

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #3 on: May 05, 2004, 11:14:04 AM
Thank you so much Bernhard and Ayahav. Appreciate that. Will try to get the scores.

Bernhard, is the piece "La fille aux cheveux de lin (The girl with the flaxen hair)" a variation of a set of minatures or is it a solo piece in itself?

Thanks again

Zhiliang
-- arthur rubinstein --

Offline bernhard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #4 on: May 06, 2004, 12:17:52 AM
Debussy composed two sets of 12 preludes (Book I and Book II). "La fille aux cheveux de lin" is one of the preludes in Book I. It is a piece in itself.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #5 on: May 06, 2004, 01:41:17 AM
There is some more comments on La fille aux cheveeux du lin at the end of this thread:

https://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1079372061

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline DarkWind

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #6 on: May 06, 2004, 03:24:07 AM
You should try the Tarantelle Styrienne. It's incredibly underplayed, unlike the other pieces, which are extremely well known and can get kind of annoying at times listening to them so much (except for the album leaf, never heard it). The Tarantelle is a bit long, but it has an amazing melody, and will definitely pique your interest in him, at least it did to me.

Offline zhiliang

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #7 on: May 06, 2004, 11:46:39 AM
Dear Bernhard,

Is it the Prelude Book 1 No. 8? Is it onyl 2 pages long?

Just want to confirm... Is his other pieces inside the preludes any good?

Regards,

Zhiliang
-- arthur rubinstein --

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #8 on: May 06, 2004, 12:17:18 PM
As music, his preludes are generally horrible.  He didn't compose the preludes as musical pieces but rather "impressionistic" pieces.  This means that you'll have to use your imagination to really enjoy them - the audience most likely won't.  Debussy has a bad reputation because of his preludes partly because no one pays attention to anything else he composed.

And if you ever listen to his preludes one after the other, you'll know what I'm talking about.  It's pretty tedious listening.  And the performers who play him should play him with much more dynamic.  He's dreadful!

Offline bernhard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #9 on: May 06, 2004, 02:56:28 PM
Quote
Dear Bernhard,

Is it the Prelude Book 1 No. 8? Is it onyl 2 pages long?

Just want to confirm... Is his other pieces inside the preludes any good?

Regards,

Zhiliang


That is the one, and yes, only two pages long.

i love all og them, but Faulty is right: they are not your conventional "nice melody" sort of piece. (But they are not horrible. He finds them horrible which is a different matter altogether ;) ) The pieces I suggested are the ones closest to your requirements.

However, listen to them all and see what do you think. These are highl atmospheric, evocative pieces. You have to be in a certain mood to appreciate them. Also, they grow on you. You play only Debussy  for a couple of weeks, and then try playing some Beethoven, or Mozart. Oh boy, what an unpleasant shock!

Debussy lives in a world of his own.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline edouard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #10 on: May 07, 2004, 04:01:22 AM
Z., you could try 'Canope' out of the second book. But i warn you that it looks easier than it is. actually the interpretation of sonorities is very difficult, buts its very nice.
According to a book i read on the preludes, there are specific tonal relations between the preludes so that some lead to the next. so it can be interesting to play them as a cycle, but this is by no means obligatory, and each prelude creates a world of its own, quite far from being 'horrible' i consider them as masterpieces.
another point i would like to make is that i think that Debussy was one of the only composers to write everything he wanted on the score. Ie his scores are incredibly complete, and contain many indications concerning colour, tempo, volume etc... so that i would recommend playing Debussy 'as if one was improvising' but  strictly keeping with all his indications and they all have their purpose.
Also i find Debussy is the hardest composer to play on a bad piano and one of the best sounding composers on a quality grand!
edouard

Offline zhiliang

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #11 on: May 07, 2004, 06:08:52 AM
Oh dear, i have only an upright to do it from. In fact, i got the scores to all the pieces mentioned up there. I sightread through the La fille aux cheveux de lin and it really gives me a very Scottish feeling. In fact with the 6 flats, i felt its easier to play as only F is not a flat.

I wouldnt consider them horrible as all seems to evocate different moods, and they cannot be listened to everything as a whole. I also happen to get Pollini's recordings of the Preludes Book 1. I believe that Walter Gieseking made a legendary recording of those pieces right?

I also sightread through the Reverie, and it sure didnt sound too Debussy. But very beautiful.

Is the Tarantelle Styriennea dance?

Zhiliang
-- arthur rubinstein --

Offline Logar

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #12 on: May 07, 2004, 07:28:05 AM
Hey!

If you wanna play Debussy you should really try his Prelude pour Piano (nr.1) It's very cool and isn't too hard or too easy. Has some funny things. :D

To be or not to be - that is the question!

Offline ravel

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #13 on: May 07, 2004, 12:47:32 PM
try  " la pus que  lente "   ( hope i got the spelling right)
, it is a beautiful piece, with a really mysterious melody. it was actually the first piano piece i heard by debussy, and i loved it,  and i didnt even know that it was composed by debussy then. Later when i came to know tht he composed it, i was like, " it had to be him".

Offline bernhard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #14 on: May 07, 2004, 03:53:22 PM
Quote
I believe that Walter Gieseking made a legendary recording of those pieces right?
Zhiliang


Yes, Gieseking is the best Debussy interpreter (in my opinion). He set the benchmark for all to follow. And for some reason, you can now get boxed sets of all his recordings at bargain prices. I also like Michelangeli – he recorded the complete preludes for DG. There is also an interesting DVD of Barenboin (he is not my favourite pianist) playint and commenting on them.

And Ravel is right: La plus que lente is wonderful (I forgot it!)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #15 on: May 07, 2004, 10:28:31 PM
What is so different about Gieseking's interpretation?  What makes hims so special compared to all others?  I haven't heard any Debussy by him or anything else by him...

Offline bernhard

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #16 on: May 08, 2004, 01:31:43 AM
Quote
What is so different about Gieseking's interpretation?  What makes hims so special compared to all others?  I haven't heard any Debussy by him or anything else by him...


Debussy's music  - perhaps more than any other composer - depends on tone colouring to be effectively presented. Gieseking was a master of tone colour.

I recently bought a complete set of Debussy's solo piano played by a guy I had never heard of called Gordon Fergus Thompson. It was  a real bargain: £10. (one of the reasons I bought it). Later on I learned this guy is a famous piano professor. It was one of the worst Debussy I ever heard. Actually, it was the worst. For all I know he may be a wonderful teacher, and a  great interpreter of other composers. But boy, his Debussy sucks!

So.

Listen to him, then listen to Gieseking. This should tell you immediately what is so special about Gieseking.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline ravel

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #17 on: May 09, 2004, 03:49:44 AM
i have giesekings cd od debussy s preludes and ravels completely piano works.
i know what u mean when u said he is a master of tone color.
my only concern was that at some points i think, he was rushing with the pieces, however, such was his mastery on the instrument, that most of them still sound amazing.
also , I was wondering has any one heard casadesus' recording of any debussy or ravel.
i have heard he is good.

Offline Alp635

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Re: Debussy Piano Pieces
Reply #18 on: May 15, 2004, 10:22:27 AM
I agree,

Gieseking's recording is unbelievable.  I just listened to Zimmerman's complete preludes as well, not bad.  A bit intense for my taste, but Casadesus recorded the complete ravel and his tombeau de couperin is quite beautiful.  

If you want to play something by Debussy and haven't played any at all, clair de lune is so beautfiul, or the sunken cathedral, though the latter is quite difficult.  

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