Debussy’s “Rêverie,” Zoltán Kocsis

Rêverie (“daydream”) is music of the young Claude Debussy. Written in 1890, this atmospheric piece for solo piano anticipates the composer’s later works. At the same time, I hear a fleeting echo (perhaps coincidental) of Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Swan. As with Saint-Saëns, who downplayed his 1886 Carnival of the Animals suite as frivolity, Debussy later turned his back on Rêverie, writing to the publisher Fromont,

I regret very much your decision to publish Rêverie. I wrote it in a hurry years ago, purely for material considerations. It is a work of no consequence and I frankly consider it to be no good!

It’s hard to agree with Debussy after listening to the performance below by Zoltán Kocsis. Opening with a rising and falling line evocative of gently lapping water, Rêverie is filled with soft, pastel colors and conversing voices. Throughout Debussy’s music, a single chord can achieve the ultimate expressive power. For example, listen to the sudden hint of menace at 0:51. These ominous clouds dissipate as quickly as they came. Another example comes with a transcendent harmonic shift just before the icy coda.

Recordings

  • Debussy: Rêverie, L. 68, Zoltán Kocsis Amazon

Featured Image: “Rouen Cathedral,” West Façade, Sunlight (1892), 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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