Debussy’s “La plus que lente”: A Sultry Homage to the Café Waltz

Claude Debussy composed La plus que lente in 1910, shortly after the publication of his Préludes, Book I. The brief waltz for solo piano ventures into the sultry, atmospheric world of Parisian café music. Lazy and hauntingly melancholy, it is a dreamy evocation of the sounds of a Gypsy café ensemble. Additionally, at moments, the music anticipates the bluesy strains of jazz.

The same year, Debussy visited Budapest and, in a letter, commented on a musician he heard there: “In an ordinary, commonplace café, he gave one the impression of sitting in the depths of a forest; he arouses in the soul that characteristic feeling of melancholy in which we so seldom have an opportunity to indulge.”

La plus que lente was a gentle parody of the valse lente genre which was sweeping Paris at the time. The title of the piece, which translates as “the even slower waltz,” carries a hint of the composer’s trademark sarcasm.

Recordings

  • Debussy: La plus que lente, L. 121 Jean-Efflam Bavouzet Amazon
  • Claude Debussy’s 1913 piano roll recording

Featured Image: “Evening, Porte Saint-Denis” (1900), Georges Stein

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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