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.
- 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