Claude Debussy, 1893.
String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10 - II. Assez vif et bien rythme.
Without a hint of hesitation, Claude Debussy shook the music world with his defiantly groundbreaking works. Today, one could listen to his work and not "get" what is so groundbreaking. Once can ask what is special about his music's fleeting evocations of images, sounds, and feelings? Isn't that what music is supposed to do? Before Debussy it was never done in such a free individualistic manner. Everything was structured. This is not to say Debussy didn't plan his works, it is just to say that it flows, it takes its own path as opposed to following the rigid footsteps of the great ones before him. For his efforts, Debussy was labeled an impressionist. Today we associate the term with Monet, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Renoir and the influential French art scene. At the time however, this word was critical and unappreciative.
The String Quartet in G Minor, is perhaps the piece that started it all. It was written one year before the piece that earned him the impressionist tag, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. The Quartet can be seen as his first public experiment in what would become his trademark style. It is thought that the second movement, which is heard here, bears the influence of Japanese music that was heard at the World Expo in Paris a few years prior. All told it is a sparkling and lively movement remeniscent of a lively night out in Paris.
Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Julliard Quartet version available here.
Tokyo Quartet version available here.
Emerson Quartet version available here.
Artwork by: Camille Pissarro // The Boulevard Montmartre at Night