At a Glance
Claude Debussy was fascinated with and inspired by Frédéric Chopin from a young age. He once said, “Chopin is the greatest of all, for with the piano alone he discovered everything.” Though Debussy’s overall aesthetic differs from Chopin’s, both composers utilize intimate, contained forms and have a flair for mood-painting and the use of exotic sounds.
The four Debussy works on this evening’s program were composed between 1903 and 1910. They all possess his signature impressionistic voice, which is at once immediately recognizable and yet unique to each work. Debussy drew harmonic, sonic, and melodic inspiration from a variety of artistic sources, including medieval music, Asian cultures, older European styles, and even popular melodies.
Situated between the two groups of Debussy works on tonight’s program are Chopin’s virtuosic ballades, which germinated from a poetic impulse and exemplify the Romantic genre of the self-contained piano miniature. Composed by one of the era’s most preeminent composers, these works present both technical and musical challenges to the performer at every turn.