La cathédrale engloutie & La serenade inerrompue

On September 21, I shared a recital with a colleague, performing works for piano solo and piano duet by Robert Schumann and Claude Debussy.  Overall, I’m fairly pleased with the result, considering that the recital was planned relatively last-minute.  I just got the final recording, and thought I’d post some pieces I performed that I feel weren’t too shabby.  The recording was live, so everything was captured, including shuffling, coughing, and my own unfortunate flubs.  Do try to ignore those.

* * * * * * * * * *

The first book of Préludes by Claude Debussy (1862-1918 ) was completed in 1910.  Each of the twelve pieces represent a mature compositional style that expresses a great diversity of emotional states.  Interestingly, Debussy placed the titles at the end of each piece, perhaps in an attempt to indicate that the music itself was more important.

I had first performed these two préludes about six years ago, as part of my half recital during my junior year of college.  It was a pleasure to refresh these pieces, which had become such an integral part of my being so long ago.


La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral)
The legendary Cathedral of Ys was engulfed in the sea about 1,500 years ago as punishment for its impious inhabitants.  It was allowed to rise from beneath the waves each morning as a reminder of their sins, only to return to the depths of the misty waters.  With the open, medieval harmonies and constant dynamic increase, Debussy creates a sense of profound, eerie calm, emphasized by distant bells, which is followed by gentle ripples in the water and the rise of the submerged cathedral.  Full chords proclaim the point in which the cathedral can be seen above the waves in its entirety.


La serenade inerrompue (The Interrupted Serenade)
This piece approximates “program music” more than any of the other préludes, and is remarkably “Spanish” in nature, considering Debussy never visited Spain.  It tells the story of a poor Spanish guitarist who attempts to woo the woman he loves from the street below her window.  Passersby and sleepy neighbors mock him, interrupting his serenade and wrecking his already shaky confidence.  Amidst nervous chords and the occasional, frustrated curse, a fragmented love song emerges, only to end in a discouraged retreat.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 05:35:08

    Beautiful! I really liked Sunken Cathedral when I first heard you play it and I still do. And Interrupted Serenade is always funny. Great recordings and I didn’t hear a single mistake 😉

    What a nice compliment! I wish you could have been there to hear it live, but I’m glad you were able to hear it at all. Isn’t modern technology great?


  2. Mark Rice
    Jan 25, 2009 @ 21:38:42

    I enjoyed your version of The Sunken Cathedral.I have been a Debussy fan since childhood. This piece is always fascinating to hear, since each artists interpretation can be so different. You did a nice job on it.


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