Um exemplo de orquestração sem necessidade de artifícios multiplicadores ou temores de "horro vacui". Basta os elementos essenciais nos momentos certos, com as cores tímbricas desejadas.
Ao alcance do génio Debussy.
“Debussy never witnessed a performance of Khamma, nor did he finish orchestrating it. The composer already had a problematic relationship with the world of dance following Nijinsky’s radical choreography to Jeux and L’Après-midi d’un faune, commissions of the Ballets Russes which have since asserted themselves as concert masterpieces.
Despite Khamma’s troubled genesis, its tightly wrought dramatic structure and mysterious harmonies are pure Debussy. The dark, undulating piano arpeggios and distant trumpet calls of the opening measures set the scene with vivid strokes, with a nearly Leitmotivic approach to illustrating the plot. The influence of Stravinsky, and in particular Petrushka—which Debussy praised for its “sonorous magic”—manifests itself in sharp timbral contrasts and bitonal passages.
Debussy accepted the commission from Canadian dancer Maud Allan in the midst of health problems that obliged him to take extensive loans from his publisher, Jacques Durand. The contract for what the composer would soon call “the wretched little Anglo-Egyptian ballet” was signed behind Durand’s back in 1910, splitting royalties between the two parties, but the terms would have to change.
Allan, at the height of her fame following appearances in The Vision of Salome, turned to Debussy for another exotic work culminating in an ecstatic, sacrificial dance. The veiled protagonist of Khamma, originally entitled Isis, falls dead at the feet of the sun god, Amun-Ra, after a supplication to deliver his people from invaders. The libretto was most likely conceived by Allan’s co-author William Leonard Courtney, according to an Egyptian tale.
Debussy, struggling to find the time for his opera La Chute de la Maison Usher—for which he penned his own libretto but never completed— condemned the plot to Khamma as “so shallow and dull that a negro could do better!” He nonetheless found the inspiration to turn out a piano reduction in 1912, already mentioning to Durand his idea for the muted trumpets which emerge in Usher.
Yet when Allan demanded modifications to length and instrumentation, the composer backed out, declaring to his publisher, “here comes this little madam to give me lessons in aesthetics… who talks of her taste and that of the English!” Following measure fifty-five of the first scene, the orchestration was entrusted to the Fauré protégé Charles Koechlin.”
Debussy’s piano Images of 1894 survive in a manuscript Debussy dedicated to Yvonne, the adolescent daughter of his painter friend Henry Lerolle. (This same young lady was respectively photographed and painted at the piano by Degas and Renoir.) Dating from the same time as the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and the first draft of Pelléas et Mélisande, the three pieces reveal Debussy already confidently mature at the piano. Early in 1896 the central piece was printed in a newspaper, with the promise that all three Images were about to be published; for reasons unknown this never happened. Not until 1977 was the complete suite published, as Images (oubliées), a title devised to prevent confusion with the two official sets of piano Images published in 1905 and 1907.
In an elegantly affectionate preface Debussy describes the pieces as “not for brilliantly lit salons … but rather conversations between the piano and oneself.” This customised commentary for the young Yvonne Lerolle continues above the second Image: “In saraband tempo, that is, solemn and slow, even a bit like an old portrait, souvenir of the Louvre, etc…” In turn the third piece is headed, “Some aspects of the song ‘Nous n’irons plus au bois’, because the weather is dreadful”. Above the piece’s central avalanche of arpeggios Debussy continues the badinage: “Here the harps imitate to perfection peacocks spreading their tails – or the peacocks imitate harps (as you like it!) and the sky cheers up again in summer clothing.”
For sheer expressive beauty the untitled opening piece is almost unsurpassed in Debussy’s output, and its closing cadence echoes the end of Act 1 Scene 1 of Pelléas et Mélisande (as well as foreshadowing the end of “La soirée dans Grenade”). After it comes an early and somewhat lusher version of the “Sarabande” that reappeared in 1901 in the suite Pour le piano; the differences between the two versions are well summed up by the different modal colours and richer textures in the first eight bars of the 1894 version. Émile Vuillermoz has described how Debussy played this Sarabande “with the easy simplicity of a good dancer from the sixteenth century”, and Debussy’s stepdaughter recalled how he used to emphasise the characteristic sarabande “lift” in the piece’s second bar.
The final Image shares its mood, its toccata texture and its use of the French nursery song “Nous n’irons plus au bois” with Debussy’s later Estampe “Jardins sous la pluie”; otherwise, though, the earlier piece is quite different, for its opening theme relates it to Debussy’s String Quartet of 1893, and its last pages imitate a clanging bell with harmonic oppositions that suggest Debussy’s lifelong enthusiasm for Musorgsky. Above this passage Debussy completed his commentary for Yvonne Lerolle by writing “A bell that keeps no beat” (not entirely true in musical terms), followed by the gruff remark above the closing bars, “Enough of the bell!”
Claude Debussy compôs na fase tardia da sua vida uma peça para dois pianos, chamado “En Blanc et Noir” (A Branco e preto). Composta na mesma altura que os seus fantásticos Études, Debussy compôs uma obra em 3 andamentos, dedicado a três amigos próximos: o maestro Koussevitsky, Charlot ( amigo falecido na I Grande Guerra) e Stravinsky. Três andamentos de eloquência musical impressionista.
Hoje adquiri a gravação dos “Fragmentos Sinfónicos” do fantástico bailado “O Martírio de São Sebastião” de Claude Debussy. Uma obra ofuscada pela sua polémica de história e encenação, mas com música belíssima. Eventualmente foi adaptada e reduzida a 4 numeros sinfónicos. Deixem-se levar.