Melinda Coffey Armstead, piano & organ
Prelude to Worship
Prelude in E major WTC I . . . J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Sarabande from Pour le Piano . . . Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Fugue in E major WTC I . . . J. S. Bach
Sarabande from French Suite V in G major . . . J. S. Bach
Prelude to Prayer
Clair de lune from Suite Bergamasque . . . C. Debussy
Sinfonia in G major . . . J. S. Bach
If you’re not interested in musicology skip to the last line.
Debussy’s Pour le Piano is a suite of three pieces with the baroque genre titles Prélude, Sarabande, and Toccata, written in 1901 in homage to the French clavecin school of the 17th and early 18th centuries. As Debussy admired Bach above all other composers I’ve sandwiched the contemplative Sarabande (in C# minor) by two masterworks of Bach in the relative major key (E major). Debussy wrote:
“Music begins where words are powerless to express. Music is made for the inexpressible. I want music to seem to rise from the shadows and indeed sometimes to return to them.”
“If we look at the works of J. S. Bach . . . on each page we discover things which we thought were born only yesterday, from delightful arabesques to an overflowing of religious feeling greater than anything we have since discovered.” – Claude Debussy
The title Clair de lune, meaning “moonlight”, was added shortly before its publication in 1905 as the third movement of a four-part work called Suite Bergamasque, again using baroque genre titles of Prélude, Minuet and Passepied, and comes from a poem of the same name, published in 1869, by the Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine.
Debussy grew to hate the music of Wagner, but Mark Twain pointed out that: “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”