Claude-Achille DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
Reflets dans l’eau
Debussy was an eminent member of the Impressionist movement in the late nineteenth century. Reflets dans l’eau is the opening piece of Images, Book I, and also the first of many works inspired by the sounds of water. Ravel’s Jeux D’Eau gave Debussy the idea of writing Images, and this first piece in particular was object of many stylistic changes. It is, in fact, the most impressionistic of the set. Debussy, in describing Reflets dans l’eau, said that it should be pictured as a pebble thrown into a calm sea, creating gentle waves, and a deeper observation of the water, with the sun reflecting into it, and the surrounding nature.
Debussy smartly applied techniques of composition such…show more content… To add rhythmic interest, Ravel alternates the time signatures 2/4 and 3/4. The pianist’s left hand technique should hypnotise the audience with a resemblance of the never-ceasing movement of the waves; while with his right hand, give the idea of a kind breeze above the ocean. This visual concept alternates and prevails on the slow melody that accompanies the figure of the sailing boat. After the opening section is repeated three times, a good performer should let the two-note melody ring out of the accompaniment to add melodic interest. For this purpose, Ravel chooses unrelated keys for the new section, far away from the tonic of A…show more content… A Barcarole, originally from the Italian word barca (boat), is a song that should resemble the gestures of the Venetian gondoliers who are rowing in the canals of Venice. It is, in fact, characterised by the repetitive rhythm of the gondolier’s strokes and the rolling of the boat, marked in a 6/8 or 12/8 time signature, the latter in this case, in A-B-A form (McKay & Roe, n.d.).
Chopin, however, had never visited Venice; this shows in the lack of historical references to the songs of the gondoliers. His barcarolle presents a visual picture of his reflective phase rather than hints to the operatic barcarolles that he knew in detail.
The main melody flows out of the silence as if it had already begun before being played by the performer, who skilfully has to convey the idea of a wave that has finally risen and then falls. The 12/8 rhythm is stated by the bass ‘ostinato’. In the same way, a new melody in the key of A major appears, which has the same characteristics of tenderness and restlessness, and has a powerful peak. A distinctive feature is stated to the words “dolce sfogato”, which suggest, in an oxymoron, that the performer should sweetly express a strong emotion. Again, this affirms the way Chopin pictures the wave, calmly growing and then crashing all at once, mirrored also in the ecstatic