Pour les sonoritées opposées - Orchestration Andreas F. Staffel

Andreas F. Staffel | Piano

As part of the scholarship program of the German Music Council, Andreas F. Staffel plays the complete cycle of Douze Études (1915) by Claude Debussy and gives insights into his instrumentation of some of these masterpieces. The concert will conclude with C-A-D-E-B-an own homage to the important French composer.

Veranstaltung mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Stipendienprogramms "NEUSTART KULTUR KLASSIK" des deutschen Musikrats.

Free entrance / Suspension allowed!

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Andreas F. Staffel: CADEBES for Piano Solo (2018)

Claude Debussy: Twelve Etudes for Piano (1915)

I. For the five must-be's after Monsieur Czerny
II. For the Thirds
III. For the Quarts
IV. For Sixts
V. For Octaves
VI. For Eight Fingers


VII. For the chromatic degrees
VIII. For the pleasures
IX. For the repeated notes
X. For the opposite sonorities
XI. For the compound arpeggios
XII. For the chords

Event kindly supported by the scholarship program "NEUSTART KULTUR KLASSIK" of the German Music Council.

Free entrance / Suspension allowed!

About the Études

Debussy's late compositions, especially the Études, are for me among the few works that I would unhesitatingly take with me to a desert island - let's say the "Isle Joyeuse". It is a music that always has a lasting effect on me, especially as a composer. Each time I play these miniatures, I feel like the archaeologist who, in the course of his excavations, piece by piece uncovers new layers and deciphers ornaments. As with the great works of Mozart or Beethoven, for example, there are always surprising details to be discovered with each new encounter with the work. Doors that in turn open up views of other doors and open gates. Above all, it is the sheer infinite complexity of tonal nuances, rhythms and tempi that come together in Debussy's late work to form a perfect unity.

The deeper one penetrates into the interior of the composition, the more one is impressed by a suppleness of form and structure that is unparalleled in music history. There is no straight metrical thinking here as in German-Austrian music, everything is subordinated to the fluidity of the tones. Only the chordal etude is an exception. The title Études testifies to a cultivated understatement that can perhaps only be compared to the old Bach, who called his pieces for keyboard instruments "piano exercises". Here, too, we encounter a music that draws its power solely from itself, a self-contained language to which any externalities and virtuosic circus are alien. That is why it is so rarely played in the concert repertoire.

"Although the works are still tonal on the surface, the harmonic-melodic references develop a coherence that leaves any conventional tonal interpretation far behind." (Pierre Boulez: Leitlinien, S. 218) The music is characterized by an individual gesture that has freed itself from any conventional cliché. While much of the music of Schoenberg and his students from that period follows in the footsteps of a great Viennese tradition up to Mahler, Debussy's music has no historical models. It stands uniquely in the history of music and points well into the second half of the 20th century. The Étude pour les sonorités opposées, for example, anticipates composing in surfaces in the serial music of the 1950s, while other works are already reminiscent of the spectral compositions of a Gerard Grisey from the mid-1970s in their radical restriction to tonal development.

This "falling out of time" in the best sense is reminiscent of the late Beethoven, whose last piano sonatas and string quartets lead directly (without a detour via Romanticism) into the twentieth century and continue to puzzle audiences to this day. With Claude Debussy we do not know where these sounds come from and where they go. There is no sufficient rational theoretical explanation for it. And that is a good thing.

Andreas F. Staffel

*** Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator ***

Neustart Kultur - Klassik: Douze Études (1915) by Claude Debussy

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