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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Musical Interlude

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Enjoy Claude Debussy's Trois Nocturnes, consisting of three movements: "Nuages" ("Clouds") @ 0:00, "Fêtes" ("Festivals") @ 7:28, and "Sirènes" ("Sirens") @ 13:44, at the last two of which a change in image will occur:

About the above piece: Debussy's Trois Nocturnes was inspired by a series of impressionist paintings, also entitled "Nocturnes", by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, of Whistler's Mother fame. The version above is that of noted pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting the Cleveland Orchestra:

More information about the above piece:
According to Debussy's introductionary [sic] note to the Nocturnes: "The title "Nocturnes" is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense. Therefore, it is not meant to designate the usual form of the Nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word suggests.

'Nuages' renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion of the clouds, fading away in grey tones lightly tinged with white.

'Fêtes' gives us the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light.

There is also the episode of the procession (a dazzling fantastic vision), which passes through the festive scene and becomes merged in it.

But the background remains resistantly [sic] the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm. 'Sirènes' depicts the sea and its countless rhythms and presently, amongst the waves silvered by the moonlight, is heard the mysterious song of the Sirens as they laugh and pass on."
Have a peace-filled weekend.


  1. These are called "Nocturnes which means "night pieces" or "music to be enjoyed at evening."

    With that in mind I shall have to wait till much later in the day to listen to them, since the moods and feelings they evoke don't complement the ritual of waking up and drinking morning coffee while preparing breakfast. ;-)

    1. Really?

      I interpret the title as evoking a night mood -- an attitude which a nocturne conveys any time of the day.

    2. PS: In the fine arts, imagination is everything!

  2. I'll try and enjoy it anyway during the morning hours... :)

  3. I woder how many realize the theme at the opening of Nuages corresponds note for note with the ancient hymn Die Irae (Day of Wrath) written c. 1250 A.D.?

    1. I've only been awsare of that, myself, in recent years, AOW. We don't usually associte the music of Debussy with anything liturgical. Even La cathedral engoutie is much more a small "tone poem" for piano evoking an atmosphere of mystery born of an ancient legend concerning a bizarre geo-physyical phenomenon than about anything specifically related to religious doctrine.

      Many believe Debussy must have been inspired by Mont St. Michel when he wrote this.

      That could very well be, although Mont St. Michel is never actually ENGULFED (submerged) by the sea; it is merely isolated from the mainland at regular intervals by the tides.

  4. ... But the background remains resistantly [sic] the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm ...

    FUNNY! Before i read this I mentioned at Kid's blog today –– the post about God Painting Watercolors in the Sky –– that Debussy's Three Nocturnes would make superb background music to Kid's view of the firmament.

    Apparently, I was really on to something. ;-)

  5. W.H. Auden wrote a poem he called Nocturne. It was part of a cycle called On This island –– an obvious reference to England. Benjamin Britten set Auden's poetry to music for piano and either soprano or tenor. I had the privilege of playing the accompaniment for this cyole in a recital at New York University dedicated to the memory of Auden who had died three years earlier. We repeated the program in several other venues, but unfortunately I never had the opportuniity to play the songs again. I still get goose bumps every time I think of that sing cycle, even forty years after performing it.

    ________ Nocturne ________

    Now through night's caressing grip
    Earth and all her oceans slip,
    Capes of China slide away
    From her fingers into day
    And th'Americas incline
    Coasts towards her shadow line.

Now the ragged vagrants creep
    Into crooked holes to sleep:
    Just and unjust, worst and best,
    Change their places as they rest:
    Awkward lovers lie in fields
    Where disdainful beauty yields:

While the splendid and the proud
    Naked stand before the crowd
    And the losing gambler gains
    And the beggar entertains
May sleep's healing power extend
    Through these hours to our friend.
    Unpursued by hostile force,
    Traction engine, bull or horse
    Or revolting succubus;
    Calmly till the morning break
    Let him lie, then gently wake.

    ~ W.H. Auden (1907-1973)


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