Monday, May 11, 2015

Some Debussy Chords

 At work last week I was looking at Debussy's opera Pelléas and Mélisande as it was marked and arranged by Erich Leinsdorf for a concert rendition.  Being my wild and crazy self I decided to head over to the library this evening and give it a listen, or as much of it as I could manage prior to the 8pm closing, which turned out to be about half of the piece.  I'm not sure I would have lasted much longer without some short-order food of some kind, so the forced exit was welcome.  

 Debbusy's musical language often makes me feel submerged, but never in too deep a body of water.  Perhaps its the gentle complexity of his textures, the water-like rushing of string tremolos and rhythmic counterpoint between instrumental families, the often un-rootedness of the bass line that leaves one treading, the gentle waves and currents that might disorient you but never overwhelm.  The lightness of his orchestration here is especially appropriate so as to not "drown" the singers; conical brass are seldom used, and the beautiful opening measures set a tone of self-restraint for the remainder of the opera.

Opening measures: undulating bass; a hollow fifth-y motive that will reappear under many guises in the near future.  The bassoons are also doubling the lower voices.  Memoirs of a Geisha, anyone?  Also, the score they show in the video gets bonus points for matching the edition of what I had in the library.

My favorite moment (and the impetus for blogging) came at the end of the scene, where they both head back "into the woods."  But... to grandfather's house. 

    At 10:25 you hear this neat progression from      the strings:
The tritone jump between the 3rd and 4th chords makes it for me.  It's a scary tree!

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