Claude Debussy met Andre Caplet in 1907 - it was the beginning of a collaboration which was to take on great importance in Debussy's life. Debussy held Caplet in high esteem, and entrusted him with much arranging and conducting of his own music. Caplet transcribed "La Mer" for 2 pianos, 6 hands in 1908. This video is a live performance of the 1st movement entitled, "De l'aube à midi sur la mer" (From dawn to midday on the ocean) by the renowned Latvian pianist, Raffi Kharajanyan and the Canadian piano duo, Duo Turgeon. Presented by Sfmf in San Francisco, the 4th Milton & Peggy Salkind International Piano Duo Festival (July 5-8, 2012) featured a "Parisian Fete" highlighting music from Paris during its "golden age" from 1870-1925. The 2012 Salkind Festival also celebrated Debussy's 150th anniversary as well as music and composers with a connection to 1812,1912 & 2012. For more information on Sfmf and the Salkind International Piano Duo Festival, visit: http://www.sfmf.org/
Claude Debussy & "La Mer"
Debussy loved the poetry of Baudelaire, as he loved the painters Turner, Hokusai and Monet, all of whom created memorable images of the sea. When he published the score of his orchestral work, "La Mer," he requested that one of Hokusai's prints, "The Hollow of the Wave off Kanagawa," be reproduced as part of the cover design. "I am working on three symphonic sketches under the title La Mer....You may not know that I was supposed to have been a sailor, and only by chance did fate lead me in another direction. But I have always retained a passionate love for the sea." Debussy began sketching "La Mer" in 1903, and in 1905 traveled to Eastbourne, a town on the English Channel, to complete the piece at the seaside. His purpose, as he later wrote to his stepson, was to depict the ocean's constant mutability in ways that the painters in his Impressionist milieu could not. "Music," he wrote, "has this over painting: it can bring together all manner of variations of color and light."
"La mer" is a unique mix of tone poem and symphony, a three-movement impression of the ocean.
I. De l'aube à midi sur la mer (From dawn to midday on the ocean),
II. Jeux de vagues (Wave play)
III. Dialogue du vent et de la mer (Dialogue of the wind and the sea)
Caplet is now a virtually forgotten composer, yet his early career was given a real boost when he was awarded 1st prize in France's most distinguished musical composition prize, the Prix de Rome, in 1901, relegating a certain Maurice Ravel into 3rd place. History's cruel judgment records a different verdict on the two men's subsequent place in musical history, yet Caplet's music possesses a most definite French imprint. The 1st performance of Caplet's transcription of "La Mer" for 2 pianos and 6 hands was a concert performance by pianists, Marcel Chadeigne, Auguste Delacroix and Roger-Ducasse on March 6, 1908.
About the Artists
Dr. Raffi Kharajanyan is a distinguished pianist from Riga, Latvia who performed with Nora Novik as The Riga Piano Duo, which acheived legendary fame over the duo's 40 year artistic career. The duo toured extensively in Europe, Russia, Israel, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and performed in the U.S. at the 2007 and 2008 Salkind Piano Duo Festivals. In 2009, Nora Novik died suddenly; she lives on in the recordings of The Riga Duo, and in the inspiration of her many students and colleagues. Sfmf honored Dr. Kharajanyan and the musical legacy of The Riga Duo with a lifetime acheivement award presented at the 2012 Salkind Festival for the duo's signifiacant contribution to the piano duo genre.
Canadian pianists, Anne Louise and Edward Turgeon have been performing professionally as a piano duo since 1996. Critically acclaimed as one of the top piano duos of our time, the Turgeons have toured extensively in Europe, Northern America and Eastern Europe. The Turgeon's awards include 1st prize in the 6th International Schubert Competition for Piano Duo, and 1st prize in the prestigious Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. Duo Turgeon was featured in the PBS documentary - "Two Pianos One Passion" and the duo appears on seven CDs including "Latin American Journey." http://www.duoturgeon.com.