Children's Corner - petite suite pour piano seul

"For my precious pretty Chu-chu, with the following kind excuses of your father."

The Author's compliment attached to the preface of this suite.

Titles index
I. doctor Gradus ad Parnassum - modérément animé
II. jimbo's lullaby - animé
III. serenade of the doll - allegretto ma non troppo
IV. the snow is dancing - modérément animé
V. the little shepherd - très modéré
VI. golliwogg's cake-walk - allegro giusto
( Six Pieces )

1) The title - which makes a parody of Clementi's famous etudes for piano - is said that it comically describing the situation that a child is practicing boring piano lessons.
2) The title is said that it stands for an velvet doll of elephant, which was used regularly by Chu-chu.
3) The title of this piec is named in English. A famous pianist A. Cortot once pointed out that the title was grammatically incorrect and it should have been 'Serenade for the doll'. In French letter, the title would be 'sérénade à la poupée'. This is a Spanish serenade which imitates the sound of guitar arpeggio.
6) Cake walk is a black folk-oriented dance music which had appeared in the last part of 19th century. This song uses the rhythm of cake-walk. This is definitely the first piece using the rhythm of Jazz in European classical music.

Brief explanation :

After suicide-strife of his first wife Texier, Debussy divorced her in 1905 and elopementedly got married his 2'nd wife Emma - she was wife of a famous banker, Bardac. Before long, Debussy was finally given a child between her. The daughter was named Claude-Emma (her nickname was Chu-Chu...means like 'my pretty cabbage') when he was 43 years' old (1905 Oct.30th). It made him pleased greatly. We can easily suppose how much delight was by glancing our eyes over the name of his daughter. Before long, Debussy came to plan to compose some pieces for his first daughter. This is why this suite for piano solo came from. At first, 'Serenade of the doll' was composed and published via Ed.Durand in 1906 as a piece. A 6 pieces suite format went next in 1908. As you may know, Maurice Ravel also composed the same kind of suite around then (Ma Mere L'oye). However, unlike Ravel's one, this suite is not intend to be played by a child. Some hypothesis have tried to give reasons why the names of each piece are in English letter. Among those, the two hypothesis which intend to give the reason by checking the facts that 'his wife had taste of English and used to display a English picture in the daughter's room' and 'the housekeeper of Debussy family was English' were considered as the most confidented ones. Incidentally, one year after the death of the composer, Chu-chu also died in 1919 and the descent of Debussy family was ceased permanently. The original manuscript except for 'serenade' is stored in the National Library of letters in Paris. (2002.© K.S.)

dates Year of composing : From 1906 to September, 1908
Year pf publishing : 'sérénade à la poupée' as a piece was published in 1906 (Ed. Durand). In a suite format was published in 1908 Sept. (Ed.Durand)
instrument Piano Solo
duration About 15 min. in sum (2min./3min./2min. /3min./2min./3min.)
1'st performance Played by Harold Bauer (piano) in 1908 (12/18). At the concert of 'cercle musical', Paris.


"Images, 1'ère série / Images, 2'ème série / Children's Corner" (Deutsche Grammophon : 415 372-2)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano)
Michelangeli is a famous perfectionist as he did not permit to publish his recordings unless the quality made his sensitive ears satisfy. That philosophy is totally opposite from Samson François' as he attached importance to enliven musical performance so that most of François recordnings were directly recorded just one time for each track. Michelangeli clinged to accomplish as perfect as possible, and considered every arpeggio, pedaling, choice of tempo, and rubato. The logical perfectionistic approach makes his Debussy extraordinary keen. Because every piece of Children's Corner were based on a different vector in style so that sounds pretty different from each other, a recording with continuous and well-ballanced reasonability of interpretation is rarely to be found. Regarding with the difficulty of this suite, Michelangeli-like 'passive- but- never be ruined' perfectionist approach should be the most favorable. The feature of his Debussy fill with some Viennish tight accent, which may make some listeners feeling a bit of incongruity. Also, as for 'The snow is dancing', clear arpeggio which he is good at get mashed a little bit, which look to disadvantage of which of Paraskivesco's. However, instead of the inferiority, 'Cake-walk' of this recording highlights the superiority. Because of the jazz-like rhythm, most of the famous recordings were ruined the quality. But Michelangeli's inspection of natural rhythm and reasonable accent arrengement eliminates the awkwardness. He is not a positive winner of a tune but typical no-loser of debussy.

"Images 1 ere, 2ème livres / Berseuse Héloïque / Children's Corner (Debussy) : Ma Mère l'oye / Habanera (Ravel*)" (Calliope : CAL 9832)
Théodore Paraskivesco (piano) Jacques Rouvier (piano)*
From the time on, he had started enjoying mainly his carrier as a educator and sited in Paris so that he stopped to record any very often. Here, his recordning of Debussy was no exception, the recordings were recorded in 1980's and it became difficult to purchase them (especially for 'etudes' and 'preludes') by now, in spite of his quality of performance. This situation is really misfortune. His debussy, reflecting his status as an educator, can be described as it's through of penetrate and delicate interpretation and performance. Although his 'Cake-walk' sounds with a little bit of awkwardness, this recording has a supreme version of 'The snow is dancing'. The sublime clearity and overhelming softness with rubato which is to the point give delicate power of persuation to this performance.

Claude Debussy "Préludes libre 2 / Elégie / Children's Corner" (Pianovox : PIA 538-2)
Alice Ader (piano)
Although she has been unprolific and merely done the recordings, all of her small amount of Debussy recordings should be considered to be among the best. Even though she seems already in middle age when she recorded two volume of Debussy recordings in around 1998-9, her technic is highly competent. Her style of Debussy can be characterized by bold felmata (which makes exquisite naughts) and gigantic rubato strokes which construct three dimentional tone space. Related interpretations would be those of Livía Rév and Zoltan Kocsis. One may claim this contains too much arbitrariness and such adventurous performance choose the listeners' favor. But still this is a warmly recommended disc as an second choice which has an individual and interesting voice.

"L'oeuvre pour Piano" (Erato : 4509-94827-2)
Monique Haas (piano)*
Monique Haas, an French prominent female pianist, had fortunately left complete recordings of Debussy and Ravel before she passed away for Erato. Above all, her Ravel recordings are as good as it have chosen the grand prix disc of French disc award. Her Debussy' s charm can be pointed out that of her modest interpretation and vivid arpeggio. Although her interpretation is a bit less-emotional in general, this 'Children's corner' demonstrates a typical example of her merit such that it does not contain significant ruins of interpretation, strong accent with clear tempo, and effective pedaling. However, her recordings for Erato have one mortal wound. Recording environment is seriously poor !! Despite there is no significant noise, and no monaural equipments in this recording, this piano sings dirtily !! mid-range swells out weirdly and sounds like a middle-age spread folks. Moreover, the sound is crackled. This regretable recording environment spoiled the virture of her performance. Be prepared to accept this fault. If you do, this will give you an pretty alternate to your disc library.
The rate is just for the performance of 'Children's Corner' only.

2001. 10. 13 : Japanese edition uploaded date
2002.11. 7 : english edition uploaded date

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