Ys

To listen press on the audio player below
(you can also download the file –
click on the three dots on the right):

To use the carousel, click on or touch the number 1 on the top left; it will open up to fill your screen, you can then move through the four slides by using the arrows at the side; to leave it simply press Escape (Esc) or, if on your phone or tablet – where they’re best viewed in landscape – the small x in the top right hand corner.

Claude Debussy…


Alfred Cortot...


Walter Gieseking…


Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli…


Maurizio Pollini…


Nelson Freire (plus score)…


  1. What a delightful piece – you wonder why we don’t hear it played more often. Brahms loved dance music, didn’t…

  2. Very interesting comparisons. I wonder if slow movements in romantic music are being played more slowly now. Andante means walking…

  3. A most ingenious and enjoyable selection. Particularly liked Alain Vanzo in the Bizet serenade. With such immaculate French diction surely…

  4. Very interesting! I like Hugh’s reference to the visual – the idea of a cathedral rising out of the sea…

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4 thoughts on “Ys

  1. Thank you for another interesting session. I understand that Debussy liked faithful interpretations of his markings. He doesn’t provide pedalling or tempo instructions as you point out but I prefer the recordings that adhere to his own use of tempo on his roll. In much of it he doubles the speed of what is written for example on your slide 2. Some of the above don’t do that so their openings seem a bit fast.

    • Hi Julia,
      I agree. The ‘plainsong’ which, after all, is marked ‘doux et fluide’ should, in its first appearance anyway, have the sort of freedom with which Debussy plays it. But to start the piece at that speed? No, that’s not my idea of ‘Profondément calme’!

  2. Fascinating. Some of Debussy’s markings are quite visual – ‘dans une brume’. Maybe that’s why this music appealed to an artist like Ceri Richards. I liked the misty sound of Gieseking – a modern Steinway can sound too bright and clear in this piece as I think it does with Michelangeli.

  3. Very interesting! I like Hugh’s reference to the visual – the idea of a cathedral rising out of the sea is nothing if not visual! Debussy seems to be as concerned with this (e.g. ‘sortant de la brume’) as with matters of tempo and phrasing. I’d like to know more about the differences between the poetic and the practical, but I think I’d prefer pianists to deliver the music as instructed rather than with their own poetic interpretation.

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