New Release: Víkingur Ólafsson’s “Debussy-Rameau”

Jean-Philippe Rameau and Claude Debussy meet as virtual contemporaries on Debussy-Rameau, a new album by the Icelandic pianist, Víkingur Ólafsson.

Surprising common threads emerge as we listen to the music of Rameau (1683-1764), one of the most important French baroque composers and theorists, alongside the rule-shattering impressionism of Debussy (1862-1918). Ólafsson believed the juxtaposition would “create a dialogue that might show Rameau in a futuristic light, and find Debussy’s deep roots in the French Baroque, and show him as much more than just this kind of hazy, impressionistic composer of space and sonority.” Debussy himself shared a similar sentiment when he found the earlier composer’s opera, Castor et Pollux, “so personal in tone, so new in construction, that space and time are defeated and Rameau seems to be a contemporary.”

Ólafsson’s album is more than a loose collection of fascinating and superbly played music. It’s designed to be an experience in which the sum is greater than the parts. We almost begin to forget the distinction between the two composers. The ordering brings out subtle tonal connections which adds up to a 70 minute journey. Ólafsson’s highly original approach allows us to hear this music in an exciting new way.

Here are four excerpts from the album:

Le Rappel des oiseaux (“The Conference of Birds”) from Rameau’s Suite in E Major:

Serenade for the Doll from Debussy’s Children’s Corner:

L’Enharmonique from Rameau’s Suite in G minor:

Hommage à Rameau from Book 1 of Debussy’s Images:

Recordings

Photograph: Ari Magg/Deutsche Grammophon

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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