Claude Debussy: The Sonic Visionary 150th Anniversary

Boston Chamber Music
Celebrates Debussy’s
150th Anniversary

Nélida Nassar  07.30.2012

The summer season welcomes a festivals plethora around New England with the musical and artistic scene migrating to the Berkshires, thus leaving the capital cities such as Boston almost culturally barren. This year, the Boston Chamber Music is filling this gap.  It is focusing its imaginative programming on Debussy 150th anniversary celebration. A Prix de Rome recipient, Claude Achille Debussy was born on August 22, 1862. Along with Maurice Ravel, he is considered one of the most prominent figures of the impressionist music movement. His music is noted for its sensory component and for not often forming around one key or pitch, but composing enigmatic pieces with multiple key changes deftly revealed its complexities. Debussy’s work reflected the activities or turbulence in his own life. In French literary circles, the style of this period was also known as symbolism, a movement that directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active
cultural participant.

For the anniversary’s celebration, the Boston Chamber Music assembled a repertoire of Debussy’s pieces with others from his fellow artists and composers Ernest Guiraud’s recitative orchestration, Maurice Ravel’s orchestral and instrumental effects and textures, Erik Satie’s phonometricity, César Franck’s ultra-Romantic, graceful modulations and expressive work, and Gabriel Fauré’s harmonic structures and coloristic meanings.  Together, they ushered in a new musical age, one shaped by Debussy’s deep and pervasive influence.

But it is Claude-Achille Debussy the father of musical modernism, the visionary that we hope to discover in this celebration. Ever since that languorous flute solo was first heard to create the reverie of a priapic deer in his Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune in 1894, Debussy transformed European musical tradition. Debussy’s investigations of color, form, texture and feeling ushered modernism without which the vast majority of 20th century music could not have been written.

Among the Debussy’s piano music pieces that the program proposes Reflets dans l’eau, La sénénade interrompue, La fille aux cheveux de lin are not their apparent real-world referents, but they are their own visions of new kinds of musical experience, harmony and time. Debussy creates intense, mathematical and precise musical images and a new world of feelings not impressions. Let us join in celebrating the explorer and the visionary.

The Boston Chamber Music selected a program that demands a balance of passion and self-directed anger, a blend of wistfulness and contentment. Debussy remains radical with the barely contained eroticism of his score that come seeping through the beguiling, dreamy surface in his plush, taut and boldly spacious music.

2012 Hamel Summer Series: Debussy’s 150th anniversary will take place every Saturday of the month of August at the Charles Mosesian Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.

August 4, 2012
Ernest Guiraud: Romances sans paroles for Cello and Piano
Claude Debussy: Reflets dans l’eau, from Images I
Claude Debussy: La Fille aux cheveux de lin, from Préludes I
Claude Debussy: La Sérénade interrompue, from Préludes I
Claude Debussy: Piano Trio in G major
César Franck : Violin Sonata in A major
Sheryl Staples, violin; Julie Albers, cello; Jon Klibinoff, piano
August 11, 2012
Erik Satie: Choses vues à droite et à gauche, for Violin and Piano
Claude Debussy: Claire de lune
Claude Debussy: Cello Sonata
Erik Satie: Gnossienne, No. 1
Gabriel Fauré: Préludes, Op. 103, Nos. 1 and 2
Gabriel Fauré: Impromptu No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 34
Gabriel Fauré: Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 45
Steven Copes, violin; Marcus Thompson, viola; Ronald Thomas, cello;
Randall Hodgkinson, piano
August 18, 2012
Claude Debussy: Violin Sonata
Maurice Ravel: String Quartet in F major
Maurice Ravel: Violin Sonata
Claude Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10
Jennifer Frautschi, violin; Xiao-Dong Wang, violin; Dimitri Murrath, viola;
Ronald Thomas, cello; Mihae Lee, piano
August 25, 2012
Gabriel Fauré: Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 13
Debussy: Ibéria (arr. for Piano Four Hands)
Maurice Ravel : Piano Trio
Harumi Rhodes,violin; Ronald Thomas, cello; Mihae Lee, piano;
Benjamin Hochman, piano

Originally Published in Berkshire Fine Arts

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