Claude Debussy’s work is often thought of in comparison to the visual arts, an idea supported by “Estampes,” which literally means “prints” or “engravings.”
Gardens were a favorite subject in the paintings of Claude Monet, to whom Debussy was often compared.
This movement, which may be heard depicting the soft, yet insistent sounds of rain falling on foliage, follows the model of a toccata with its virtuosic finger-work. At the same time, however, the muted, reserved tone makes it seem as if we’re hearing from a distance—perhaps through a window.
No one likes to do their gardening in the rain! The other two pieces in Estampes bring together a number of Debussy’s musical concerns. His interest in Balinese Gamelan is reflected in “Pagodas,” and his taste for exotic color in “Evenings in Granada.”