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Debussy the Impressionist?

Tom Service considers whether Claude Debussy was an Impressionist or not, arguing that he was instead a modernist, an abstract composer and also a creator of nightmares.

Tom Service considers whether Claude Debussy was an Impressionist or not. He is often said to have composed Impressionist music - in such popular works as Claire de Lune and La Mer. But Tom argues that Debussy's music has quite a different character to that of the Impressionist painters - and to prove it he discusses the techniques of those painters with art historian Anthea Callen. Debussy, Tom argues, was a modernist, an abstract composer and also (in his opera Pelléas et Melisande) a creator of nightmares.

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29 minutes

Music Played

  • Claude Debussy

    Clair de lune (Suite Bergamasque)

    Performer: Stephen Hough.
    • Hyperion.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Mer: 3rd movement

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pour les Quartes (Etudes)

    Performer: Mitsuko Uchida.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Jeux

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande - Act 4 “Quel est ce bruit?”

    Performer: François Le Roux. Performer: Maria Ewing. Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Mer: 1st movement

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Mer: 2nd movement

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Mer: 3rd movement

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Ludwig van Bethoven

    Symphony No.6: 5th movement - Allegretto

    Performer: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Performer: Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
    • TELDEC.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Mer: 1st movement

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    La Mer: 3rd movement

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pour les Quartes (Etudes)

    Performer: Mitsuko Uchida.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pour les degrés chromatiques (Etudes)

    Performer: Mitsuko Uchida.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Jeux

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Rite of Spring: Auguries of Spring

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • EMI.
  • Arnold Schoenberg

    Erwartung

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • EMI.
  • Claude Debussy

    Jeux

    Performer: The Cleveland Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande - Act 3 Interlude

    Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande - Act 4 “Maintenant que le pere de Pelleas est sauvé”

    Performer: Jean-Philippe Courtis. Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande - Act 1 opening

    Performer: José van Dam. Performer: Maria Ewing. Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande Act 3 - “Prenez garde; par ici”

    Performer: José van Dam. Performer: François Le Roux. Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande - Act 3 Interlude

    Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    Pelleas et Melisande - Act 4 “Quel est ce bruit?”

    Performer: Maria Ewing. Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.

Broadcast

  • Sun 18 Feb 2018 17:00

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