Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Nationality: French
Born: August 22, 1862, St. Germain-en-Laye Died: March 25, 1918, Paris (age 55)

Piano Trio in G major

(for violin, cello and piano)
9:13 I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:24 II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
4:16 III. Andante espressivo
5:55 IV. Finale. Appassionato
Duration: 23 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1880 (age 17-18)
Premiere: November 12, 1985. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale. Daniel Blumenthal (piano), Peter Zazofsky (violin) and Valter Despalj (cello)
Published: 1986, Munich: G. Henle Verlag
Dedication: Emile Durand
Note: Work written for the trio put together by Mme von Meck in Florence, with Danilchenko (cello), Pachulsky (violin) and Debussy (piano).
7 recordings, 28 videos
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9:51
European Fine Arts Trio
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:38
European Fine Arts Trio
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
4:32
European Fine Arts Trio
III. Andante espressivo
6:03
European Fine Arts Trio
IV. Finale. Appassionato
8:18
Stuttgart Piano Trio
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:05
Stuttgart Piano Trio
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
3:35
Stuttgart Piano Trio
III. Andante espressivo
5:44
Stuttgart Piano Trio
IV. Finale. Appassionato
10:28
Joachim Trio
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:47
Joachim Trio
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
4:33
Joachim Trio
III. Andante espressivo
5:49
Joachim Trio
IV. Finale. Appassionato
9:44
Trio di Milano
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:31
Trio di Milano
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
4:49
Trio di Milano
III. Andante espressivo
6:03
Trio di Milano
IV. Finale. Appassionato
7:35
Trio Paian
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:17
Trio Paian
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
4:15
Trio Paian
III. Andante espressivo
5:17
Trio Paian
IV. Finale. Appassionato
9:26
Hamburger Klaviertrio
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:16
Hamburger Klaviertrio
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
3:59
Hamburger Klaviertrio
III. Andante espressivo
5:50
Hamburger Klaviertrio
IV. Finale. Appassionato
9:15
Lincoln Center Chamber Society
I. Andantino con moto allegro
3:20
Lincoln Center Chamber Society
II. Scherzo. Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
4:31
Lincoln Center Chamber Society
III. Andante espressivo
5:56
Lincoln Center Chamber Society
IV. Finale. Appassionato
From Kai Christiansen

Claude Debussy Debussy’s stunning musical originality would become revolutionary in 20th century classical music. His music became the very opposite of formal, dramatic and primarily Germanic musical rhetoric of the 19th century. Arising from a distinctly different French sensibility, Debussy conjured his colorful, sensuous musical atmospheres from new harmonies, exotic rhythms and myriad influences from Spain, Asia and the new world.

All of this would come to fruition in the mid early 1890’s. Meanwhile, in 1879, Tchaikovsky’s Russian patroness Nadezhda von Meck invited the eighteen-year-old student Debussy to teach her children piano as well as provide accompaniment and chamber music. During a significant sojourn, Debussy frequently performed piano trios and, according to her letters, found inspiration to compose one. The manuscript was presumed lost until it surfaced at auction around 1979. Nearly complete, it was reconstructed by an American musicologist who eventually published the work in 1986. Dating from a good fifteen years before his celebrated string quartet, Debussy’s lone piano trio tempts with the fascination of an early glimpse into the evolution of a musical giant long before his signature style matured.

Debussy’s trio is a full-fledged four movement work with a prevailing French and ever so slightly salon style characterized by lyricism, clarity and gentle sensibility that is charming more than dramatic. The earlier trios of compatriots Franck and Saint-säens come to mind except for Debussy’s curiously wandering harmonies. The music is richly draped across leisurely forms with engaging themes distributed generously among the three players. The first movement is broadly expressive without making challenging or difficult arguments. The slow movement is tender, even nostalgic. The finale is a flowing series of tuneful tableaux with touches of Schumann, Chopin and Dvorak wafting through a warmly lit café. It is the third movement scherzo in particular that broaches something more atmospheric, a bit Russian, possibly Asiatic. There are slightly mysterious perfumes in a plodding caravan with deft ornamental decorations and banners snapping in the wind. Delicate and pointillistic, the music dances around a dark-hued modality that briefly evokes the orient.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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