The Unbroken Line
I have been immersed in French music, and Debussy in particular, since I was a child. At age ten, lying on the floor of my bedroom, listening to Debussy's Claire de Lune, I knew at that moment that I would be a pianist. As I became familiar with his contemporaries, I began to fall in love with their music too- Chabrier, Faure, Franck, Ravel, Poulenc, Dukas, and more recently, Couperin and Rameau. Their music has been with me at virtually every turn in my career; from my first solo recital to Carnegie Hall. After years of playing this repertoire, and with the priceless guidance of my late teacher, Annie Marchand Sherter, I have begun to understand their aesthetic resonance across time and space. They represent continuity between generations of French composers, echoes of awareness and admiration, an unbroken line.
Reflets dans l'eau, Claude Debussy's prismatic piano piece from Images I (1904) is the point of departure for an ambitious, ongoing project that traces the unbroken line of influence, inspiration, and intersection between great composers across the centuries. Debussy was both a unique genius and a spiritual heir to his predecessors and idols, Couperin and Rameau, along with a host of other influences ranging from Weber, Chopin, Mussourgsky, and Wagner, to Javanese Gamelan, J.M.W. Turner, Edgar Allen Poe, and Katsushika Hokusai's prints.
I will be featuring the music of these great French composers in coming seasons, giving special prominence to Debussy as the centenary of his death approaches in 2018. In preparation for that historic event, I am revisiting and studying his entire ouevre for piano solo which I will present in the context of his influences and predecessors. My aim is to share what I experience as the spiritual depth and poetic brilliance of Debussy which is deftly hidden in the secret architecture of his craft. To meet Debussy in his imaginative landscape, as Samson Francois puts it "on the other side of the mirror", one has to be both perpetually open to the fragrance of inspiration yet ruthlessly structured. He was writing not only for himself, but for his entire country, having taken up the mantle to once and for all establish a purely French art, free of the excesses of Wagner. Not only does he succeed in creating a musical world of dreams and inexpressible emotions, Debussy integrated the music of the non-Western world in a way no one had ever done. His intuitive and deeply felt admiration of Eastern cultures freed his music from the confines of linear development, which partly explains the difficulty in pinpointing the length of any of his pieces while listening to or performing them. Our experience of linear time is transformed by the cycles of gongs, of sinuous chromatic webs, and of sympathetic resonance between music and our dreams.
Claude Debussy- Etudes (complete)
Francois Couperin- 25th Ordre
“This is a beautiful idea... LaDeur’s Rameau is spellbinding. In fact, hearing his own transcription of “Tristes apprêts” from Castor et Pollux, one aches to hear more... The traceries of [Debussy] in LaDeur’s hands are magical... The performance of the second book of Préludes is magnificent... - Colin Clarke, FANFARE