Monday, June 15, 2015

Which Debussy Prelude Are You?

This kind of title is, of course, unashamed clickbaitery. The Internet loves lists, narcissism and polls and this combines at least two of those. I was on my way to a party yesterday and just about when it was due to begin, it started raining and the Debussy title just popped into my head: "Jardins sous la pluie" (Gardens in the Rain), because where I was going had a big garden. As a matter of fact, that piece is not a prelude, but the last movement of the suite Estampes. But then the thought "which Debussy prelude are you?" just popped into my head. When I lived in Montreal it would have been "Des pas sur la neige" of course.

Here are the complete titles of the Debussy preludes, two books, so twenty-four in all. Due to some ambiguity in the titles, there are even more possibilities. Think of it as being like the astrological signs or the Jungian personality types except more whimsical and musical (and just about as meaningful). So, which Debussy prelude are you? You might choose a title and then listen to the music to see if the music suits you. In the original edition, Debussy prints the score to each piece and at the end, puts the title, which I kind of like. So, go ahead, make your choice and let me know in the comments below. We have to do it this way because I don't know how to set up an online poll. But leaving a comment will be more interesting anyway.

If you chose the antepenultimate one in Book 2 I am going to be worried, though. A canopic jar was what the ancient Egyptians used to store the viscera of a mummy. Has to be the weirdest title ever for a piano prelude...

Book 1:
Danseuses de Delphes: Lent et grave (Dancers of Delphi)
Voiles: Modéré (Veils / sails)
Le vent dans la plaine: Animé (The Wind in the Plain)
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir»: Modéré
("The sounds and fragrances swirl through the evening air")
Les collines d'Anacapri: Très modéré (The Hills of Anacapri)
Des pas sur la neige: Triste et lent (Footsteps in the Snow)
Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest: Animé et tumultueux (What the West Wind has seen)
La fille aux cheveux de lin: Très calme et doucement expressif (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair)
La sérénade interrompue: Modérément animé (Interrupted Serenade)
La cathédrale engloutie: Profondément calme (The Submerged Cathedral)
La danse de Puck: Capricieux et léger (Puck's Dance)
Minstrels: Modéré

Book 2:
Brouillards: Modéré (Mists)
Feuilles mortes: Lent et mélancolique (Dead Leaves)
La puerta del Vino: Mouvement de Habanera
Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses»: Rapide et léger ("Fairies are exquisite dancers")
Bruyères: Calme (Heather / town in Eastern France)
Général Lavine - eccentric: Dans le style et le mouvement d'un Cakewalk
La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune: Lent (The Terrace of Moonlit Audiences)
Ondine: Scherzando
Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.: Grave (Homage to S. Pickwick)
Canope: Très calme et doucement triste (Canopic jar)
Les tierces alternées: Modérément animé (Alternating Thirds)
Feux d'artifice: Modérément animé (Fireworks)

Here is a clip with all of the preludes played by Krystian Zimerman:

Now wasn't that a clever way to trick you into listening to the Debussy preludes?

As a bonus, here is "Jardins sous la pluie" from Estampes. The performer is Sviatoslav Richter:


Ken F. said...

I'm probably more a Scriabin op. 74 prelude, or a Schoenberg op. 19 piano piece, but as for the Debussy preludes (most of which I've studied, and are some of my favorite music), probably La puerta del Vino. My wife would disagree, though.

Bryan Townsend said...

I used to play the Schoenberg op. 19 pieces--love them. But I don't know the Scriabin. There is always more music to listen to! But even though I don't live in Montreal any more, I might still be "des pas sur la neige." What would your wife say?

Ken F. said...

I don't hear la neige in "Des pas sur la neige"; I hear tristesse. Since we live in Florida, I don't think a neige prelude would be what my wife would say. Probably more likely Général Fasano - eccentric.

Bryan Townsend said...

Believe me, if you had ever spent a February in Montreal, the snow and cold would provide lots of "tristesse"!

Just as long as it isn't the Canopic jar!