In this age of repeated hearing it is a rare privilege to play for people who are present in the moment of hearing for the first time, either a piece that they have never heard and therefore cannot imagine, or a piece that they have heard many times in the past.  In either case the present listener brings a great deal to the performance.  
Yesterday it was Debussy's Suite Bergamasque that triggered remarkable conversation very much to the point of the piece as well as to  my approach to it.
Remarkably it reminded one woman - someone who had never heard me play - of French nursery rhymes!  I approach the work as a fragile meeting of metric conventions, some based on standard rhythm notation, others coming from French prosody, with which that notation is often in direct conflict.  Debussy makes the tension palpable in melodic lines that simply do not sound right if parsed according to standard beats and bar lines.  They demand being listened and responded to on their own terms.


Comments are closed.