Claude Debussy was a great admirer of the paintings of William Turner. One day, in early 1908, he told his publisher Jacques Durand that he was “trying to do something different”; he wanted to create “realities ... what the imbeciles call ‘impressionism’”. On another occasion he added that music is a “mysterious mathematical process whose elements partake of infinity” and that captures the “mysterious relations between nature and the imagination”. The beauty of a piece of music, he said, always remains a mystery and is impossible to explain.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer's death, Bärenreiter are offering some of Debussy’s central piano works in up-to-date urtext editions. Among them are such favourite cycles and collections as “Children’s Corner” (BA 8767), “Suite bergamasque” (BA 8769), “Deux Arabesques” (BA 8768), “Préludes, 1er livre” (BA 10818; 2e livre in preparation, BA 10819) and finally the virtuosic, iridescent colours and shimmering harmonies of “Images” (BA 10821 and 10822). The editions of this sometimes highly complex music place a special emphasis on elegant and spacious engraving and practical page-turns.
In addition to an informative preface to introduce the works and a critical commentary to list alternative readings and editorial decisions, every volume also contains valuable suggestions on such questions as dynamics, pedalling, tempo, articulation, tone and choice of instrument – questions essential to an understanding of Debussy’s novel world of sound. “It’s always exciting to hear my music”, the composer once said. “I always detect new changes. One thing comes, another goes, something else changes. The dynamics are different, the motion fluctuates.” Nevertheless, this improvisational and fugitive side of his piano music is governed by a precisely calibrated formal design that leaves as little room for chance in the proportion and variation of its sections as in its tempo and expression marks.
Those who want to form an initial picture of Debussy’s piano music will find the representative selection in the Debussy volume of our popular series “Easy Piano Pieces and Dances” (BA 6573) a perfect place to start. This edition, equipped with tried-and-tested fingering, is aimed at all age groups and is specially suited for piano lessons and music schools.
Debussy’s „Préludes“ – An interview with the editor Thomas Kabisch