Richibi’s Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Month: January, 2019

the Nutcracker Suite – Tchaikovsky

vzevolozhsky's_costume_sketch_for_nutcracker

 original costume sketch for “The Nutcracker” (1892)

 

       Ivan Vsevolozhsky

 

              __________

 

 

it didn’t take me long, after wondering 

about precedents for Debussy’s nursery

piece, Children’s Corner, to ferret out 

Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, a work

with a similar theme, childhood 

fantasies

 

but the Nutcracker Suite

 

         l. Miniature Overture

        ll. Danses caractéristiques

                a. Marche

                b. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies

                c. Russian Dance

                d. Arabian Dance

                e. Chinese Dance

                f. Reed Flutes

       lll. Waltz of the Flowers

 

is not to be confused with the complete 

balletfrom which it had been excerpted 

to great acclaim before the ballet itself 

was presented, but to much less 

enthusiasm, until George Balanchine 

revived it in the 1960s

 

note that Tchaikovsky’s Suite, in 1892, 

contains still the traditional elements 

of the suite – see above – a prelude, or 

overture, followed by a series of 

dances, only a few years before 

Debussy’s Children’s Corner, 1908, 

redefined the form, made the 

movements indiscriminate, not 

confined to dance rhythms

 

note also that Tchaikovsky sounds 

a lot more like the Strausses, father

and son, Romantics both, than he 

does like Debussy, an Impressionist,

a generation later only

here’s the orchestral Nutcracker Suite,

a suite, in other words, is not limited

to one instrument

 

here’s a riveting version of it for two 

pianos, not to be missed 

 

R ! chard

Advertisements

two suites – Debussy

clair-de-lune.jpg

     “Clair de lune” 

 

      Jean Cocteau

 

        __________

 

 

two suites 

 

      Debussy’s Suite bergamasque

 

      his “Children’s Corner

 

how are they similar

how are they different

 

you tell me

 

a couple o’ clues

 

      “Suite bergamasque

 

             Prélude

             Menuet

             Clair de lune

             Passepied

 

      Children’s Corner

 

             Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

             Jimbo’s Lullaby

             Serenade for the Doll

             The Snow is Dancing

             The Little Shepherd

             Golliwog’s Cakewalk

 

 

R ! chard

 

psst: if you said, there are no dance

          pieces in Children’s Corner“,

          and only three of the four 

          movements in “Suite

          bergamasque” are dances, 

          you’d be right, the others all

          have evocative titles, nothing 

          to do with the cadence, the 

          step

 

          but that begs the question, 

          what happened to the traditional

          suite, a string of dances preceded

          by a prelude

 

          well, time, and the vagaries of

          language, intentions, essentially, 

          Debussy did to the suite what

          Chopin had done to the prelude

      changed its meaning, took away

          its original purpose, for better or

          for worse, a suite is now, in a

          similar transformation, a piece

          of music, merely, any kind of music,

          with several segments, without

          even, necessarily, gasp, a

          prelude

 

          you can never step into the same

          river twice, in other words, the

          current just keeps on inexorably

           moving, even immutable,

           apparently, concepts fall by the

           wayside, see democracy, at

           present, for  instance

two suites – Debussy / Ravel

minuet-1756.jpg!large

    Minuet (1756) 

 

           Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

 

                                   _________

 

two pieces

 

          one by Debussy, his Pour le piano

              or, in English, For the Piano 

 

          a second, by Ravel, his Le tombeau 

              de Couperin“, or Couperin’s Coffin

 

 how are they similar

 how are they different

 you tell me

 

a couple o’ clues

 

          Pour le piano 

 

                  Prélude

                  Sarabande

                  Toccata

 

          Le tombeau de Couperin

 

                  Prélude

                  Fugue

                  Forlane

                  Rigaudon

                  Menuet

                  Toccata

 

 

R ! chard

 

psst: both these works are suites, in

          the manner of Bach, compositions 

          with more than one segment, the

          first a prelude, followed by, at

          least, two dance pieces  

 

          the form had remained fallow for

          nearly two hundred years until it

          was revived, atavistically, during

          the Impressionist Period  

 

           if you can’t tell your sarabande

          from your rigaudon, your forlane

          from your toccata, don’t fret, they

          are now defunct dances, not to

          mention that they’ve always been

          stylized, these suites, in other

          words, weren’t made for dancing,

          as the saying goes, but for

          performance, listening

 

Preludes – Debussy / Gershwin

rhythm-2008.jpg!large

    “Rhythm (2008) 

 

             Romul Nutiu

 

                         ______

 

 

here’s Book 2 of Debussy’s “Préludes”,

for a total of 24, as many as in Chopin’s 

undivided set, his Opus 28but with 

different motivations, different musical 

imperatives, which I won’t get into here 

for being, for the present, too abstruse

 

here are three, meanwhile, by George 

Gershwin, just for kicks, his only three 

 

what are the differences

 

you tell me

 

 

R ! chard

 

psst: Gershwin, to my mind, adds, 

          indeed stresses, rhythm, 

          fascinatin’, as it were, rhythm,

          he’s no longer as unrelentingly

          meditative, serious, as was

          Debussy, a distinguishing

          characteristic of the

          increasingly American 20th

          Century

       

        

Chopin / Debussy – Preludes

prelude.jpg!large

       “Prelude (1909) 

 

               Willard Metcalf

 

                         _________

 

 

what’s a prelude

 

something that, by definition, 

precedes something else

 

which it had been, formally, 

before Chopin made it stand 

alone as musical form, 

much, incidentally, as he 

later did the scherzo 

 

a prelude, earlier, had preceded

several other dance pieces in

suites, Bach’s Cello Suites, for 

example, all start with a

prelude

 

or fronted fugues, in, again,

notably, Bach’s celebrated 

Preludes and Fugues sets, 

more of which, for their 

complexity, later

 

here’s Chopin, however, with 

his array of 24, his Opus 28

one for each key, incidentally, 

much in the manner of Bach’s 

template pieces, the Preludes

and Fugues

 

here’s Debussy’s Book 1

picking it up for the 20th 

Century, with his tonally

indiscriminate 12 

 

what’s the difference

 

you tell me

 

R ! chard

 

psst: apples and oranges, I think,

          depends on my mood that 

          particular night, whether

          meditative or melancholy

Études – Debussy / Rachmaninov

he-music-lesson-1917.jpg!Large.jpg
 

  “The Music Lesson (1917) 

 

          Henri Matisse

 

              _________

 

 

here are two sets of contemporary 

études

 

      the first, Book 2 of Debussy’s 
          Études pour piano 
            published in 1915

 

       the second, Rachmaninov’s
           Études-tableaux“, Opus 39,
            of 1917

 

note the similarities

note the differences

 

R ! chard

psst: I found Rachmaninov to be still
          caught  up in the Romantic
          Period – identifiable melodies,
          less eccentric tonalities – the
          better to, still, pull at your
          heartstrings, Debussy, is more
          clinical, cerebral, pointing the
          way towards, I think, jazz

          but you tell