Claude Debussy's Preludes are 24 pieces for solo piano, divided into two books of 12 preludes each. For his SUN / OCT 6 performance, our guest curator Marc-André Hamelin will end the concert with the complete Debussy Preludes Book 2.
Unlike some notable collections of preludes from prior times, such as Chopin's Op. 28, or the preludes from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Debussy's don’t follow a strict pattern of key signatures. Also, each book was written in a matter of months, at an unusually fast pace for Debussy. Book 2 was created between the last months of 1912 and early April 1913.
Initially, Debussy and other pianists who gave early performances of the works played them in groups of three or four preludes, and this remains a popular approach to this day. It allows performers to choose preludes with which they have the strongest affinity or individual interpretations are most suited.
However, despite this approach, there is a strong tonal relationship between the preludes that suggests that the published order of the preludes is not arbitrary. This has not stopped several pianists who have performed the preludes out of order. However, for our OCT 6 performance, Mr. Hamelin wants to present Book 2 in its entirety to showcase this strong relationship.
This isn’t the first time Mr. Hamelin has played the full book in one performance; in November 2014, he released Preludes Book 2 as part of his album Debussy: Images & Préludes II on the Hyperion label.