Wednesday, May 23

Suite Bergamasque...

It's really strange (and fascinating). I have listened to some works in the (not so distant) past and was left completely unimpressed. And I listen to the same works later and fall in love with them. It's difficult to explain why; I suppose, as the saying goes: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven". This is from the Old Testament (the book of Ecclesiastes) which, actually goes on to say: "a time to love and a time to hate". So it seems that this could apply to music too! 

There are several pieces I have in mind which fall within this category, the more recent one being Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamasque. I began to practice that about 2 weeks ago, and realized very quickly the hidden difficulty that lies under an apparently easy score: the secret in this music is to transform the sound into color, the score into a painting; the impressionistic style requires a very particular touch, a kind of a very special softness and "vagueness". It's very early to write anything more about this (though I have played Ravel and Debussy in the past). I shall need time, not to learn the notes (which should be fairly straightforward) but to emerge into this atmosphere and get a hold of what I am doing. 
Four pieces, each one a whole world: the dynamic prelude, the mysteriously playful minuet, the poetic clair de lune, and the joyful passepied. Together with the Children's Corner and Images, this is my favorite work by the composer. 

What can I say about clair de lune? Nothing, perhaps, except the poem of Paul Verlaine which inspired Debussy to write this music...

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.
Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L'amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
Ils n'ont pas l'air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,
Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d'extase les jets d'eau,
Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

Ps. Yesterday I was watching a wonderful film I Capture the Castle, based on the classic novel by Dodie Smith (which I love),  and at some point the clair de lune could be heard in the background; it fitted so well with the atmosphere and beauty of this film...

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