August 2005 | This Issue




Click Here for This Article in Thai
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

Monsoon outside...
Makes Chiang Mai so much more interesting…

he year 2005 marks the return of the pianist Bennett Lerner and friends in only his second concert since 1997. With the cooperation of Payap University, Chiang Mai Thailand, this concert is a tribute to Claude Debussy − a lovely combination of Western and Eastern styles and the presentation of the beautiful sound of various instruments in the same music.
Sweet, natural, free from the contemporary rhythms that impress people so easily, it is not surprising that all music lovers in the world know and love this music.

Claude Debussy 1862-1918

He was a French composer and critic. His music is often associated with the impressionist movement in painting, and his approach shares characteristics of this style. His Prélude to the Afternoon of a Faun departs from traditional development, relying on a series of free repetitions of basic themes. Leading impressionist poets and painters, who gathered at the home of the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, influenced Debussy's first important orchestral work, Prélude to the Afternoon of a Faun (1892-94), inspired by Mallarmé's poem, L'Après-midi d'un faune. This work established the genre of impressionist music and initiated Debussy's most productive period, which lasted nearly 20 years.

During that time, he composed the orchestral suites Nocturnes (1893-99), La Mer (1903-05), and Images (1906-09). Most of his piano music, including the two books of Préludes (1910-13), the incidental music to The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (1911), the ballet Jeux (1912); a number of songs and some chamber music, and his one completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande (1892-1902), based on Maurice Maeterlinck's drama. Debussy wrote in 1904 "The primary aim of French music is to give pleasure more than anything."

Debussy's interest in the exquisite and sensual also led him to an appreciation of the music of other cultures, and his use of various scales beyond the traditional major and minor ones shows the influence of Asian and Russian music.

A decisive influence was the Paris Exhibition of 1889, where he first encountered the music of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra. The exotic scales, as well as the floating qualities of form and rhythm would find their way into his work, especially his piano music. Gamelan is an ensemble normally comprising percussion. The Indonesian Gamelan orchestra is based on metallic percussion with winds and drum,

Debussy began to associate his music with visual impressions of the Far East, Spain, landscapes, and others., in sets of short pieces.
This can be heard in the volume Estampes (1903), which opens with pagodas and invokes a feel of Asia and its magnificent pagodas and imposing turrets.
The second piece in Estampes, entitled La soirée dans Grenade, vividly portrays a Spanish atmosphere. Even his famous Children's Corner Suite for piano, which he wrote for his beloved daughter, whom he called Chou-chou, also suggests influences from Asia as well as jazz. From the west to east..we're still in love with Debussy

Soon to be added to the list of musicians who have recorded the complete piano music of Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) will be  Dr.Bennett Lerner, a resident of Chiang Mai who was invited by the American label, Bridge Records, to record all of the piano compositions.  
"I have been dreaming of doing this for so many years,"  Dr. Lerner told us, ' and now I will have a chance to present my interpretation of this gorgeous music." To many of us here in Chiang Mai, Bennett Lerner's view of Debussy is well-known, since he gave a series of four recitals of this music some years ago at Payap University, where he is presently teaching piano in the Music Department.

©2005 Janine Yasovant
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazinel

Scene4 Renate Stendhal

Janine Yasovant is a lecturer and writer. Bsc. in Psychology MPA. in Public Administration. And the director of  ICECA (Initiative for Cultural Exchange and computer Art) in Thailand. For her quiet mind all things are possible

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