Debussy’s “Bruyères” from Préludes, Book 2: Krystian Zimerman

Composed between 1909 and 1913, Claude Debussy’s twenty four solo piano Préludes are divided into two books. Unlike the Preludes of Chopin or J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, they do not form a sequential harmonic procession. Instead, they float ephemerally between traditional tonality and modal harmony, and the pentatonic and whole tone scales. They emerge as dreamy, atmospheric vignettes.

Bruyères is the fifth Prélude from Book II. Translating as “heather,” it “evokes pastoral bliss, an Arcadian landscape of peace and contentment,” and “according to Debussy’s good friend, the pianist Marguerite Long, it recalls the smell of sea mist mixed with coastal pines.” (Craig Sheppard) At moments, the music becomes a hazy recollection of Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin (“The Girl with the Flaxen Hair”), the eighth Prélude from Book I. Both develop from a single melodic thread which seems to drift suddenly and magically into our consciousness. 

Here is Krystian Zimerman’s live concert recording from 1993:

Recordings

Featured Image: “The Cliff Walk at Pourville” (1882), Claude Monet 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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