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Preludes

Claude Debussy composed his two books of Préludes between late 1909 and early 1913. Each book contains 12 Preludes. A novelty about these Préludes is that the titles are not printed as a header above the first page, but as a footer on the last page, almost like an afterthought, suggesting that the title is inspired by the music and not the other way around. Here follows a description of some of the items recorded here.

La Puerto del Vino (The Gate of Wine) describes the Spanish life and the passionate temperament of the Spanish people that Debussy had imagined, based on a postcard he had received of the Moorish gate by the Alhambra Palace in Granada. A habanera rhythm is often heard in the left hand while the right hand imitates flamenco-style singing and guitar.

Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses (The Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers) was inspired by one of Arthur Rackham's illustrations in J.M. Barrie's children's book, "Peter Pan in Kensington Garden". Robert Godet had sent the book to Debussy's daughter, Claude-Emma (nicknamed "Chouchou") as a Christmas present in 1912.

Ondine is a wicked water nymph who seduces innocent fishermen into the destructive waters of the sea. Although her outward appearance is beautiful, her hidden intentions are deadly.

Feux d'artifice (Fireworks) was inspired by the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14th. A hint of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise", is heard near the end of the piece.

Les Collines d'Anacapri (The Hills of Anacapri) depicts life in the small city of Anacapri, on the Island of Capri off the Italian mainland, which is famous for its joyous folksongs and folkdances.

La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune (The Terrace for Moonlight Audiences) is based on a description of the coronation festivities of George the V as Emperor of India that Debussy had read in the December 1912 edition of "Le Temps" magazine. The article had been submitted by Rene Puaux as part of his "Lettres des Indes" series.

La Cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) belongs to the lost city of Y's that has sunken to the bottom of the sea as a punishment. It emerges for a brief moment each morning to remind the people of their sins, but then slowly resubmerges. The cathedral bells and monks' chants may be heard through the mist of dawn.

Danseuses de Delphes (Dancers of Delphi) describes the stately ritual dance of Greek sculptures, waves created in their robes as they slowly turn.

Des pas sur la neige (Footprints in the Snow) portrays a frozen landscape in the dead of winter.
Bruyeres (Heather) is a low-growing mauve flower. One can hear birds calling or the sounds of a shepherd's flute a distance from the heather field.

La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) paints a serene picture of the Scottish maiden with hair of gold from Leconte de Lisle's poem.

Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Sounds and Perfumes Mingle in the Evening Air) is based on a line of Charles Baudelaire's poem, "Harmonie du soir".

Text provided by Nicole Muller

Preludes livre I.

1
Danseuses de Delphes3:00
Muller, N.
2
Voiles3:36
Coleman, C.
4
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir3:38
Micol, F.
4
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir3:41
Muller, N.
5
Les collines d'Anacapri3:33Muller, N.
6
Des pas sur la neige4:14Muller, N.
6
Des pas sur la neige4:36
Kinsella, B.
7
Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest
3:24
Reichgott, H.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin
2:32
Hawkins, C.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin
2:54
Stahlbrand, R.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin
2:32
Alianello, M.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin
2:56
Assimakopoulos, P.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin
2:43
Castellano, J.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin2:36McCarthy, M.
8
La fille aux cheveux de lin2:52
Muller, N.
9
La sérénade Interrompue
2:45
Hanysz, A.
10
La Cathedrale Engloutie
6:59
Yamada-Scriba, T.
10
La Cathedrale Engloutie6:11
Griner, D.
10
La Cathefrale Engloutie
5:54
Castellano, J.
10
La Cathedrale Engloutie6:32
Dolan, E.
10
La Cathedrale Engloutie6:15
Hawley, M.
10
La Cathedrale Engloutie5:55
Hawkins, C.
10
La Cathedrale Engloutie5:42
Muller, N.
11
La danse de Puck
2:52
Bispham, P.
11
La danse de Puck
3:02
Hanysz, A.


Preludes livre II.

3
La puerta del Vino
3:05
Alianello, M.
3
La puerta del Vino3:19
Muller, N.
4
"Les Fées sont d'exquises danseuses"3:23
Muller, N.
5
Bruyères3:34Muller, N.
6
General Lavine - eccentric2:59
Castellano, J.
7
La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune4:14Muller, N.
8
Ondine3:33Muller, N.
10
Canopic Urn
3:11
Hanysz, A.
12
Feux d'artifice
4:04
Kendrick, A.
12
Feux d'artifice5:33
Kopp, S.
12
Feux d'artifice4:37
Muller, N.