Suite Bergamasque

Titles index
I. préludes - moderato - tempo rubato
II. menuet - andantino
III. clair de lune - andante tres expressif
IV. passepied - allegretto ma non troppo

A suite in four movements

About this suite :
This is continuring work for piano solo and the previous one is 'Deux Arabesques'. This suite can be characterized in their higher dependency of modal melodic expression, glissandos and effective, colorful harmonization (especially in usage of the seventh), they clearly demonstrates the development of Debussy's compositional skills. From the first date of composing until the date of its first publishing, it took 15 years. In the while, the author had reviewed them for several times (the precise reviewing process is remained unclear, in any ways, 1905 year edition - which was published by ed.Fromont - is the most frequently performed one in nowadays). The suite consists of four movements. The first, second and the fourth one can be characterized the resemblance of compositional manner of the next work 'Pour Le Piano' or the previous 'Deux Arabesque' in their theme and style which derives from Italian opera works or medieval court dance music. The third one 'Clair de Lune' is especially famous for its silent and heartfelt mood and this is one of the most frequently-performed tune (sometimes as a piece=whithout regarding with the original suite format) throughout the world and has arranged for many other instruments. The title 'Bergamasque' represents the name of an Italian region of Bergamo, which reflects the compser's personal experiences in Italy after he won the 1'st Prize in 'Prix de Rome'. (2002. © K.S.)

dates Years of composing : 1890-1905
Published : 1905 (Ed. Fromont)
instrument Piano Solo
duration About 16 min. (4min. / 4min. / 5min. / 3min.)


"Études / Berceuse Héroïque / Morceau de Concours / Suite Bergamasque" (Saga : EC 3383-2)
Livía Rév (piano)
A Hungary-born lady with incredible technic - Livía Rév - has recorded Debussy's works for two times. This is from the her first Debussy cycle in around 1980. Because her playing style can be described as keen and massive and the performance sometimes sounds stronger than mens' do, it is hard to imagine her pianism fits this modest suite. However, the performance is very much delicate and modest. She clarified the structure of each composition lyrically by refrained from depending on many pedals, which let each tone in vertical spectrum, and made the sound three-dimensional. Even though her performance does not contain any best performance for each movement, this should be considered the best performance of the suite in a total average. The current situation, that her recordings for Saga is totally ignored (because she is not French?) by the critics throughout the world, is clearly unreasonable. Any publisher who considers themselves as they posess the real love and understanding of modernist classical music should let the discs to come into the acclaim again.

"Piano Works Vol. 3 :
Suite Bergamasque / Images Oubliées, lent : vif / Rêverie / Deux Arabesques / Danse / Pour le Piano / Ballade / Nocturne / Danse Bohémienne / Valse Romantique" (IMP: MCD 24)

Martino Tirimo (p)
A Greek pianist, Martino Tirimo is still remained relatively unknown. His performance style is totally different from Livía Rév, characterized by his modest, gentle, decent and sober expression. Because of such pianism, we can not help wondering whether his style won't fit the witticism in Debussy's works. But this volume 3 of his Debussy recordings is a real masterpiece. The best feature of his recording of Bergamasque is, it has the BEST performance of 'Clair de Lune'. I can not recall any recordings ever made with such sincerity and delicacy, sounds like a elaborate glasswork. Although of its quality of performance, this recording is also significantly underrated by almost of all critics in the world, this situation makes really no sense.

"Préludes / Suite Bergamasque / Images 1, 2 / Jardins sous la Pluie / 12 Études / Pour le Piano (Denon : COCQ-83040-42)
Anatoly Vedernikov (piano)

This virtuoso recording from Russia (previously Soviet Union) is clearly one of the most fruitful gift of the end of the cold war. Although the existence of this recording was known in some keenest listeners because of its virtuosity, he had restricted to tour abroad and his recordings had been in veil for many years. But fortunately, he had recorded Debussy little by little at that time. We can easily imagine how much the recording gave a shock to the western critics and listeners when it came to be published for the first time in 1995, by knowing the fact that the recording was immediately selected the grand prix disc of the Record Academy Award in the year. Apparently his first repertoire, which was Bach, destinguished his style of interpretation and performance of Debussy also. In other words, his Debussy was very much structured and so muscular as Paraskivesco did. Although the duration of Clair de Lune was too long (6:57 ; the longest duration as far as I know), the performance of others are so textural with his extraordinary arpeggio.

"Pour le Piano / Estampes / Suite Bergamasque / Nocturne / Six Epigraphes Antiques" (Calliope : CAL 9833)
Théodore Paraskivesco (piano) Jacques Rouvier (piano)*
Since its emergence in the latter half of 1970s with this recording, this pianist - Théodore Paraskivesco, has been seen as one of the most cherished performers of Debussy, although the fact has been restrictedly known by the most enthusiastic listeners. Actually, his Debussy is less sophisticated in witticism, but has much more of contextual staccato and more of sincerity to original score in his interpretation and playing which sounds like a ware made by hands of a traditional craftman. His interpretation of works such as 'Estampes' or 'Suite Bergamasque' definitely makes the highlight of this recording, resembles Vedernikov in many aspects which can be characterized as the their Slavic inheritance in interpretation - more structural, more contextural, more unrefined in witticism. Also his interpretation is shorter than Vedernikov did (5:38).

"Children's Corner / Suite Bergamasque / Six Épigraphes Antiques / Pour le Piano" (Harmonia Mundi : HMC 901504)
Georges Pludermacher (piano)
Since I unexpectedly selected two recordings in the same manner of textural performance as above, here I would like to introduce one more recordings played in a French manner. This recording was performed by a French pianist George Pludermacher. He is a professor of National Conservatory of Music in France. He was born in 1944 and has won several international piano conpetitions such as Liese or Geza Anda. He is not a kind of pianist of virtuosity but of sensitiveness in piano touch and the refined way of interpretation. This Debussy was recorded when he was 50 years' old in the middle of 1990 and those are printed in two compact discs. Although the other one was played a bit dimly, this volume is a masterpiece. Even though he could not play the best in 'Clair de Lune', this Bergamasque can be recommended because of its modest and sophisticatedly warm interpretation which can be seen as a typical French-rooted style of performance.
The rate is just for the performance of 'Bergamasque Suite' only.

2001. 8. 28 : Japanese edition uploaded date
2002.11. 7 : english edition uploaded date

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