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  • Noriko Ogawa plays Debussyprevious volumes:

    Noriko Ogawa

    DebussyPiano Music

    Volume 4Prludes, 1st book; Childrens Corner etc.Editors Choice Gramophone Le disque de Noriko Ogawa rvle une excellente musicienne, de temperamente classique : une concption mesure et narrative de Debussy, reposant sur un piano somptueux. Un trs beau disque. Classica

    BIS-CD-1205

    Images; Estampes etc. Recording of the Month MusicWeb InternationalOgawas piano sound is luscious, with bell-tone melodies, exquisitely balanced chords, and arpeggiated fl ourishes of the most delicate lace. American Record Guide

    BIS-CD-1105

    Prludes, 2nd book; La Bote joujoux etc.Editors Choice GramophoneShe has both the range of colour and the emotional fl exibility to bring the Preludes alive... BBC Music Magazine

    BIS-CD-1355

    BIS-CD-1655

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    DEBUSSY, [Achille-] Claude (18621918)

    Douze tudes pour le piano, L 136 (1915) 49'51Livre I 23'07I. Pour les cinq doigts , daprs M. Czerny 3'22II. Pour les tierces 4'24III. Pour les quartes 5'28IV. Pour les sixtes 4'52V. Pour les octaves 2'48VI. Pour les huit doigts 1'42

    Livre II 26'35VII. Pour les degrs chromatiques 2'22VIII. Pour les agrments 5'00IX. Pour les notes rptes 3'16X. Pour les sonorits opposes 4'58XI. Pour les arpges composs 4'48XII. Pour les accords 5'3012

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  • tude retrouve (1915) 5'13First version of Pour les arpges composs. Realized by Roy Howat

    Intermde (1880/82) 4'05Transcription for piano from Piano Trio No. 1

    Six pigraphes antiques, L 131 (1914/15) 19'07I. Pour invoquer Pan, dieu du vent dt 2'44II. Pour un tombeau sans nom 3'57III. Pour que la nuit soit propice 2'52IV. Pour la danseuse aux crotales 2'38V. Pour lgyptienne 3'39VI. Pour remercier la pluie au matin 2'34

    Les Soirs illumins par lardeur du charbon 2'05L 150 (1917)

    TT: 81'42

    Noriko Ogawa piano

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    music begins at that point where language becomes powerlessas a means of expression; music is made for the inexpressible

    Claude Debussy

    Debussy aired this opinion in a letter to Ernest Guiraud, his composition teacher atthe Paris Conservatoire. Written in 1889, the letter deals with the young com pos -ers thoughts regarding music for the stage. But it can also be read in the con text ofDebussys state of mind in the summer of 1915 when he was 52 years old. Theoutbreak of the First World War the year before and continuous worries about hisown health had plunged Debussy into a creative slump. For the best part of a yearhe had written next to nothing, the exception being a couple of short piano pieces,Ber ceuse hroque and Pice pour luvre de Vtement du bless (both on Vol -ume 3 of this series), that he donated to various war charities.

    The preparation of a revised edition of Chopins complete piano works for Du -rand, his publisher, seems to have helped Debussy to regain his taste for com pos -ing, however. But now, after a long line of compositions with evocative titles orassociations Images, Estampes, Masques and the Prludes, to mention but a few De bussy chose to avoid language and extra-musical connotations. For his newcompositions he opted instead for the plainest, most factual of titles, such as stud -ies or sonatas. This approach probably contributed to a sudden, aston ish ing burstof creativity: during a few summer months spent on the coast of Nor mandy, hecom posed En blanc et noir (for two pianos), two sonatas (for cello and piano, andfor flute, viola and harp) and the entire set of Douze tudes pour le piano. Listingthese works in a letter to Stravinsky in October 1915, Debussy wrote I have writ -ten nothing but pure music.

    In his tudes, Debussy was continuing the genre of the concert tude as estab -lished by Chopin (and Liszt), in which the greatest challenge is to address speci ficaspects of piano technique and at the same time to create a work of art. While in

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    the midst of composition, on 28th August 1915, he wrote to his publisher: Youwill agree with me that there is no need to make technique boring just to appearmore serious, and that a little charm never hurts Chopin proved as much. Thedebt to Chopin was publicly acknowledged in the dedication of the tudes. Yet it issig nificant that, prior to publication, Debussy also considered ded icating the tudesto Couperin, whom he had once described as the most poetic of our keyboard-com posers. Debussy is certainly highly systematic in his treatment of various as -pects of piano technique to the point of specifying in each title the particularprob lem that the study in question addresses but in his letters he talks about thestudies in a quite different manner. No. 8, for instance, the study Pour les agr -ments (For Embellishments) borrows the form of a bar ca role on a somewhatItalian sea, while the collection in its entirety hides rig orous technique behindflow ers of harmony. And in the score itself, tude No. 5, in a whirling waltz-rhythm, is headed by the character marking joyeux et emport (joyous and pas -sionate) in sharp contrast to its dead-pan title For Octaves.

    The lack of poetic titles similar to those of earlier works probably contributed tothe lukewarm interest that the tudes encountered for a long time that and thetechnical demands they make on the performer. (To his publisher, Debussy wrotethat he looked forward to the opportunity to play these pieces for him whichterrify your fingers Rest assured that my own at times hesitate, before cer tainpas sages.) It has taken surprisingly long for the tudes to become estab lished inthe repertoire, and to be recognized as the masterpieces of 20th-century pianomusic that they are.

    The relative lack of interest in the collection may even be to blame for the factthat a thirteenth tude, sharing its title with No. 11 (Pour les arpges composs,For Compound Arpeggios), was not discovered until 1977. Though the manu -script of it was known to exist, it was assumed to be simply a sketch for the pub -lished tude for long the best known of the entire set. Closer scrutiny of the ma -

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    nuscript, however, showed it to be an independent piece and that Debussy workedon the two studies simultaneously, eventually choosing to publish the one whilekeeping the manuscript of the other among his papers. This tude retrou ve isrecorded here in a realization by the Debussy scholar Roy Howat.

    As Debussys correspondence shows, composing the tudes was a labour oflove. In contrast, the Six pigraphes antiques were quite clearly written for finan -cial reasons. Completed just before the war, the piece originally for piano four-hands extensively reuses incidental music that Debussy had written in 190001for a staged performance of a selection from Pierre Lous collection of poems en -titled Les Chansons de Bilitis. Its publication in 1894 had attracted a certain inter -est: Lous had posed as the modest translator of a collection of texts written byBili tis, a fictive courtesan and poet of ancient Greece. At the time De bussy andLous had just struck up a very close friendship that was to influence both of themsignificantly. Indeed Debussy set three of the Bilitis poems to music as early as189798. During the 1901 stage performance, twelve other poems were recited tothe accompaniment of two flutes, two harps and celesta. When return ing to thework in 1914 Debussy mentioned having at one stage planned to dev elop it into anorch estral suite, but in the end he settled for a piano four-hands ver sion, reworkingand extending the music for six of the poems. He gave the resulting pieces titlesthat differ, to varying degrees, from the ones chosen by Lous:

    No. 1 As an Invocation to Pan, God of the Summer Breeze Chant Pastoral (Lous)No. 2 For an Unnamed Grave Le Tombeau sans nom No. 3 So That The Night Becomes Propitious Chanson: Ombre du boisNo. 4 For the Dancer With Crotales [finger cymbals] La Danseuse aux crotalesNo. 5 For the Egyptian Woman Les Courtisanes gyptiennes No. 6 In Gratitude to the Morning Rain La Pluie au matin

    If the tudes are forward-looking, both in terms of piano technique and style, thepigraphes are quite naturally, given their provenance rather an after thought.

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    They hark back towards Debussys impressionistic past, but are strik ing in theirextreme economy and pared-down textures. In fact, the writing is often so sparethat when in 1915 Debussy transcribed them for piano two-hands, in many pas -sages he was able to retain all the notes of the original duet version.

    On this disc, the pigraphes are framed by one of Debussys earliest composi -tions and his very last. Intermde is again a transcription this time of the secondmovement Scherzo Intermezzo of his Piano Trio No. 1 from 1880. The trio wascom posed in Florence while the budding composer was travelling with his andTchai kovskys sponsor, the wealthy Russian widow Nadezhda von Meck. Thepiano version was probably made two years later, possibly by Debussy himself.

    Closing the programme and Debussys uvre is Les Soirs illumins, a briefpiece composed early in 1917. It was written as a token of gratitude to De bussyscoal merchant, a Monsieur Tronquin, for having pro vided the household with theprecious fuel during the wartime winters. At the head of the carefully copied-outautograph score Debussy quoted a line by Charles Baudelaire: Les soirs i