Claude Debussy, Ahead of His Time

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Claude Debussy at the piano in front of the composer Ernest Chausson in 1893.

On this edition of The Piano in France, host David Dubal explores the pianism of Claude Debussy. From compositions that integrate layers of exquisite chording and harmonies, to pieces with Eastern influences and sounds from the natural world, Debussy was ahead of his time. He developed new concepts in pedaling and in rhythms, requiring the highest sensitivity and elasticity from a pianist. 

Featured this week are some of the greatest Debussy interpreters: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing Reflets dans l'eau; Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Poissons d'or (Goldfish); and Samson Francois with the Toccata from Pour le piano.

Program playlist (all pieces by Claude Debussy):
Deuz Arabesques, No. 2: Allegretto scherzando
Zoltan Kocsis, piano
Philips

Nocturne
Walter Gieseking, piano
RTVE Musica

En blanc et noir for two pianos, 3: Scherzando
Robert & Gaby Casadesus, piano
Philips

Douze Etudes pour piano, 6: pour les huit doigts
Mitsuko Uchida, piano
Philips

Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra. 3: Allegro molto
Zoltan Kocsis, piano
Philips

Reflets dans l'eau (Images, Book 1)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, piano
Deutsche Grammaphon

Poissons d'or (Images pour piano)
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Teldec

Pour le piano. Suite, 3: Toccata
Samson Francois, piano
Philips

Douze Etudes pour piano, 12: pour les accords
Mitsuko Uchida, piano
Philips

Preludes, Book 2, No. 5 Feux d'artifice
Krystian Zimerman, piano
Philips