Gilbert is a director emeritus at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, a former director of the State Music Academy of Antwerp in Belgium and immediate past-president of the International Kodály Society, based in Budapest, Hungary.
Through a stylistic and harmonic approach, each of the preludes is a world in its own, beautifully painted into music to represent an important part of Debussy’s piano oeuvre. Influences include nature, foreign countries and travel, the ancient world, humour and imaginative personas.
A major oeuvre among his compositions.
There is a lot of speculation about the fact why Debussy did not put the titles of the preludes as heather on the first page but instead as footer on the last page. The most likable explanation is that Debussy, who did not appreciate to be called an impressionist (because of the –mostly wrong– association, often linked to impressionism, as lacking “structure”) is that he wanted to manifest that the Preludes are not “program” music… However, it is completely obvious that there are strong links between the titles and the pieces, not for the least because of all the (very) clear indications that Debussy writes into the score. Each prelude is a world in its own, full of imagination and beautifully painted into music.
The workshop is meant for both pianists and composers. Being convinced that all we have to know for a good interpretation is “in” the score, it is obvious that a profound analysis not only provides us with insight on the interpretation but also inspires with compositional know-how and invention. Studying the Debussy Preludes can stimulate in a particular way the imagination of composers and performers.
To give one clear example:
La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral), the number 10 of the 1st book.
For a good interpretation, a performer:
- needs to know the “legend” that inspired to writing the piece;
- to understand what Debussy meant with his indications: dans une brume doucement sonore followed by peu à peu sortant de la brume. It is not only a sake of understanding the French, but, much more, of understanding the “thought” behind the indications;
- to understand the “antique” way in which the organ is illustrated;
- to understand the “interlude” style used afterwards in order to play it in the proper style; - and quite some more details.
To develop his/her imagination, a composer can learn a lot from:
- the way in which Debussy creates a hazy atmosphere with pentatonic harmony in a “wide” setting (dans une brume doucement sonore), which is “tonally vague”, and a “compact” setting in a totally new tonality, which is bright and shining (peu à peu sortant de la brume), with clear harmonies;
- how he pictures the “antique organ” with mixtures of parallel 6/4 chords, a technique used in the earliest polyphony;
- how he uses different “modes” to even emphasize the “antique” mood;
- how he creates the feeling of an “interlude” with gradual imitation;
- how he uses 10 consecutive dominant-sept chords (never seen before) in a very inventive way;
- And quite some more details.
- Each Prelude is thoroughly analyzed in a PP presentation;
- Focus is on full understanding of the composition and on the interpretation;
- particular technical challenges are attended;
- also the ways of memorizing are discussed.
- The full workshop is 4 hours. (2 hours per book) with a 1 hour break.
Claude Debussy - 24 Preludes for Piano
1. Danseuses de Delphes (Female Dancers of Delphi)
2. Voiles (Sails)
3. Le vent dans la plaine (The Wind upon the Plain)
4. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (Sounds and Perfumes Swirl in the Evening Air)
5. Les collines d’Anacapri (The Hills of Anacapri)
6. Des pas sur la neige (Footprints on the Snow)
7. Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest (About what the West Wind has Seen)
8. La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair)
9. La sérénade interrompue (The Interrupted Serenade)
10. La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral)
11. La dance de Puck (The Dance of Puck)
12. Minstrels (Minstrels)
1. Brouillards (Mists)
2. Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves)
3. La puerta del vino (The Wine Gate)
4. Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses (Fairies are Exquisite Dancers)
5. Bruyères (Moors)
6. Général Lavine – excentrique (General Lavine – Eccentric)
7. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune (The Terrace for Moonlight Audiences)
8. Ondine (Water Nymph)
9. Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C. (Homage to S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.)
10. Canope (Canopic Jar)
11. Les tierces alternées (Alternated Thirds)
12. Feux d’artifice (Fireworks)