23 September 2011

Claude Debussy - Six épigraphes antiques (arr. for orchestra)

I'm a naturally stressy person. I get stressed out easily, I worry about everything and sometimes find it really difficult to relax. Music is one of the best ways to calm myself down, and although pretty much any music I love will help me relax, there are some works that accomplish this more than others. For example, the Satie piano music I blogged about here are beautiful pieces that really do have a calming effect. Another composer that has written a lot of works with the same effect is Claude Debussy. A couple of weeks ago I went to a concert in Utrecht that opened with Debussy's Six épigraphes antiques, arranged for small orchestra by Rudolf Escher. As soon as the music started I found myself breathing more slowly, and becoming more and more relaxed.

Six épigraphes antiques is originally a piano work for quatre-mains (though Debussy also made an arrangment for solo piano). It has been transcribed for the orchestra by Dutch composer Rudolf Escher as well as Ernest Ansermat and Jean-Francois Paillard. I can't find the Escher version on youtube but apparently the Escher and Ansermat versions are quite similar, so I'll post that one instead.

Claude Debussy - Six épigraphes antiques (arr. Ansermat).
Performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, cond. Ansermat (recorded in 1953).

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was a French composer. He's often called an impressionist but this was not a term he liked (to be honest I think "impressionist" doesn't do his music justice either). Debussy was really popular with the ladies and had a string of affairs as well as two marriages (when he divorced his first wife she tried to kill herself by shooting herself in her chest, somehow she survived). He's written some really well-known pieces such as Clair de Lune and La Mer as well as a huge amount of works for the piano. Some of his works I would almost consider to be dull (though this definitely depends on the performer/conductor - for example, Yannick Nézet-Séguin makes any Debussy exciting) but there's some beauties as well, such as the Nocturnes and Pélléas et Mélisande. There's somewhat of a spring-like element to most of his music, which means that you can often easily recognise works as his.

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