As my pupil grappled through a Debussy piece today,I thought that music at any level requires application.You see,as much as music is subjective in its impressions that it leaves on the hearer,it is also an art that has objective criteria by which it has to be measured.
Debussy ,although belonging to the impressionist period of music,still has a need to be phrased and musically manicured if it is to really reflect the composer’s wishes.Debussy conjures up the full orchestral palette in the piano compositions ,with the full multi octave parts assaulting our sound world.We are left with that wonderful feeling of musical fullness.Yes,Rubato is employed in the phrasing,but never at the expense of musicality.
My polemic to my student today was centred on a performance which was musical from its nucleus and not just notes as a touch typist would tap.Claude Debussy insists that we do his music justice,as nothing but our full attention to these subtle shades of tones will do.
Now,to achieve this takes not only time,but clever time,that full on point concentration.Playing the individual parts before you play the piece hands together can sometimes be an aid to really understanding the work.As this particular piece by Debussy ”
A Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin”, or girl with the flaxen hair has been played by generations now of would be French Impressionist Pianists,so there is a wonderful corpus of interpretations to feed off.Even a cursory examination of these offerings would surely lead us to a more enlightened place.Yes,we must all strive for our own sound,but never at the expense of our musical fathers of yesteryear.
So,I am taken back to those masters ,Solomon,Entremont,Rubinstein,Ogdon,Gilels,Lymphony,and many others from that wonderful pianistic roll of honour.As I was privileged to hear of these greats,I can testify to the fact that we as musicians have such a wonderful heritage that these great musicians have provided us with,that we can,and must ,return to them as we play master like Debussy.