Photo: Guy Vivien
Jean-Louis Haguenauer: Faculty Recital
Debussy: Preludes, Books 1and 2
Auer Hall, 200 S. Jordan Ave
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 8:00 pm
Jean-Louis Haguenauer is a noted interpreter of French repertoire who released a recording of the complete piano works of Claude Debussy in 2011. He has been a member of the piano faculty of the Jacobs School of Music since 1998.
Debussy’s Préludes are not preludes in the Baroque sense of a work to precede a fugue, or an exploration of key signatures in a prescribed order. The name “prelude” is somewhat incidental to these works, which the composer used as an opportunity to explore the varied sonorities of the piano. Though each one has an evocative title, Debussy deliberately placed the title at the end of each score, to emphasize that the music is more important than the program.
As examples of the composer’s mature piano style, the Préludes have much to offer the performer and the listener. Though Debussy did not necessarily intend each book to be heard as a set, they are usually performed that way, and it is musically effective. Each book, or livre, offers pieces in a variety of tempi and moods that contrast and complement one another.
The first book of preludes was completed in 1910 and includes some of Debussy’s best known piano pieces, including “Voiles,” (“Sails” or “Veils”) “La fille aux chevaux de lin,” (“The Girl With the Flaxen Hair”) and “La cathédrale engloutie” (“The Submerged Cathedral”). Filled with atmosphere and sometimes exotic, the preludes offer varied moods and a constantly changing landscape of harmony and timbre. The first book represents the beginnings of the composer’s adventures on the borders of tonality, a journey which would be completely fulfilled in the second book.
The second book, completed in 1913, includes some examples of Debussy’s musical sense of humor, including in “Homage à S. Pickwick, Esq., P.P.M.P.C.” The title refers to the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers and the work includes a musical reference to “God Save the Queen.” The best known prelude in this set is “Feux d’artifice” (Fireworks), which also contains a nationalistic reference in the form of the Marseillaise.
Debussy’s Préludes are a supreme challenge for the right pianist. This recital is an opportunity for you to hear Jean-Louis Hagenauer bring his talents to a performance of these varied and entertaining works.