Piano Forum



International Piano Day 2024
Piano Day is an annual worldwide event that takes place on the 88th day of the year, which in 2024 is March 28. Established in 2015, it is now well known across the globe. Every year it provokes special concerts, onstage and online, as well as radio shows, podcasts, and playlists. Read more >>

Topic: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite  (Read 2783 times)

Offline Brian Healey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 454
Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
on: November 14, 2004, 01:33:39 AM
I've just been playing through this wonderful set of pieces by Debussy in preparing for a student's lesson tomorrow. I forgot how simple, yet absolutely gorgeous this suite is. I think I'll assign #5 (The Little Shepherd), it makes me imagine a nymph prancing through a misty, enchanted meadow (no, I'm not on drugs).

Most people are familiar with #6, which is "Golliwog's Cakewalk" (which, by the way, makes a good etude for learning jazz stride piano), but has anyone played the whole suite? And what do you think of it?

Debussy just sends shivers down my spine. In a good way.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7530
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #1 on: November 14, 2004, 02:17:57 AM
I have taught this quite a few times because it is so popular. Next year I am actually playing the entire suite as part of my own concert program. I find that No 2 and 5 are a little boring for most students. Some enjoy the sound of it, but most like the others much more. I think it is because of the more various and exciting movement of the pieces, they like that. 2 and 5 offer a lot of good material on pedaling though I've found.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.pianovision.com

Offline Brian Healey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 454
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #2 on: November 14, 2004, 02:34:48 AM
Quote
I find that No 2 and 5 are a little boring for most students.

Well, I only have experience teaching #6 (G's Cakewalk), so maybe I should rethink my choice. I know that #5 is my personal favorite, but maybe the student won't like it as much. Any of them would really do fine, except maybe for #6. I don't think I want him to try the cakewalk just yet. Maybe I'll just play through 1-5 for him and let him pick. The student asked me to learn something by Debussy, and I found these to be a good place to start, since these were the first Debussy pieces I learned.

Offline kissinfan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 19
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #3 on: November 14, 2004, 03:45:25 AM
The childhood world described in Childrens corner is not at all sweety or conventional, indeed, it si rather dry if not slightly ironic, approached with a light and gracious touch. Always in Debussy´s style, the title aludes to some external reference, without necessarily linking the music to a precise path set in advance
the apparent simplicity of the elements is the peculiar of the six pieces making up in Childrens, the languaje is based on void chords, 2nds, 3rds, 4thrs, repetitions of one single note, the motifs characteristic of each section are repeated with no variation, duplicated to the exhaustion of the resources, according to a principle of the orderdly plot of language
beautiful stuff ;D
do write to me, don´t be lazy! FC

Offline Brian Healey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 454
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #4 on: November 14, 2004, 04:15:20 AM
The beauty of Debussy is his ability to convey the sonority of a chord in a minimalist way. I wouldn't say that they are "void" chords per se, but rather extractions from a larger harmony. Although I know what you're getting at.

For instance, in #5 (The Little Shepherd), I think of the the first part where there are the dotted sixteenths in the right hand. The left hand in this section plays the notes F and G, and the G moves up to A-flat and back. With the hands together, I hear this as alternating between the harmonies of D-flat dominant 7th with a #11 (in first inversion) when the left hand is playing F and G, and an F minor chord with a major 7th when the left hand is playing F and A-flat. That's the way I hear it, but the whole passage also conformes to the notes of a diminished scale (the one starting on G with a half-step or the one starting on F with a whole step, same scale), so that's another way to look at it. 

Genius. Simply Genius.

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #5 on: November 14, 2004, 11:54:31 AM
Perhaps the greatest irony of Children’s corner is that Debussy was an anglophile when it came to children’s education, and he even had and English Nanny for his daughter Chouchou (hence all the titles are in English in the original, not French). It is ironic, because the English are extremely children-unfriendly (and remember: all generalisations is false) and give me the shivers to think about poor Chouchou at the hands of her “Mary Poppins”.

In any case, I must say that my all time favourite is Dr. Gradus Ad Parnassum which I find exhilarating to play, sounds far more difficult than it actually is (so if you have a student who loves wheezing through pieces this is the one for him/her), and will show anyone – except perhaps for the most stubborn traditionalist – that there is really no need for Czerny’s and Pischna’s dead compositions when you can acquire all the technique they promise (and rarely deliver) by playing some delightful real music. Unfortunately it is also the most difficult of the lot.

Here are a few more possibilities:

If your student is after something jazzy like Golliwog’s cakewalk, you can always try Le Petit Negre, which is similar, but much easier. If s/he likes something more lyrical and contemplative with the “impressionist” harmonies, you can try the “Album Leaf” – arguably Debussy’s easiest piece – and very beautiful, and of course “La fille aux cheveux du lin” –the easiest to the preludes (book I), and in my opinion one of Debussy’s most beautiful pieces. The key signature can be a huge sightreading stumbling block, but once you get over it, the piece is actually very easy to play. (My way to get around it is to work a lot and in all sorts of ways in the scale of Gb major so that when we actually go to the piece, the key concept is so ingrained that the student actually reads and “plays” the music only on the notes of Gb if you know what I mean).

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 Brian Healey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 454
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #6 on: November 14, 2004, 08:53:22 PM
Quote
In any case, I must say that my all time favourite is Dr. Gradus Ad Parnassum which I find exhilarating to play, sounds far more difficult than it actually is (so if you have a student who loves wheezing through pieces this is the one for him/her), and will show anyone – except perhaps for the most stubborn traditionalist – that there is really no need for Czerny’s and Pischna’s dead compositions when you can acquire all the technique they promise (and rarely deliver) by playing some delightful real music. Unfortunately it is also the most difficult of the lot.

That's funny, when I initally learned these pieces, I found #6 (Golliwog's Cakewalk) to be the most difficult. Had no problem with #1 (Dr. Gradus). Just goes to show that everyone's different I guess.

Offline Floristan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 507
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #7 on: November 15, 2004, 08:04:15 AM
"The snow is dancing..." has always been my favorite, but I like it all, have played it all.  Michelangeli has an extraordinary recording of this suite.

Offline Lance Morrison

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
Re: Ahh... the Children's Corner Suite
Reply #8 on: March 04, 2005, 03:17:10 AM
I find it odd that people don't like Jimbo's Lullaby as much as the other movements. It's my very favourite! Of course, with my meager skills, it is also the only piano piece I can play......oh I've almost learned Footprints in the Snow, the Engulfed Cathedral, Ives' song "The Indians", the first of Schönberg's 6 little pieces, but I've given up on all of them....I have always tried hard to play Jimbo's Lullaby a bit clumsily, for I imagine his daughter's elephent doll Jimbo trying to dance in her dreams but doing so with the finesse of an elephant. My favourite aspect of this piece is the harmonies in 2nd's

I feel that after this piece Debussy had some sort of crises. It seems to me Debussy has lost SO much inspiration in the music he wrote afterwards, so that while he wrote more good music, it lacks the spirit of his earlier work. I don't think he ever reached the compositional quality level of Images Book 2 again, except perhaps in sections of Jeux and of course the beautiful sonata for flute viola and harp
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert