Karstein Djupdal >> Debussy >> pianist


Debussy at the piano

Accounts describing Debussy as a pianist

The atmosphere and sound in Debussy's playing

Karl Lahm:

It was soon after Le martyre de Saint Sébastien [1911] that I heard Debussy play for the first time. [...] He did not play for long, but there was in his gentle playing a narcotic/erotic note, a sweet dreaminess like that of a woman's hand. [Nichols p. 123]

The pianist Alfredo Casella:

He played the piano admirably. No words can give an idea of the way in which he played certain of his own Préludes. Not that he had actual virtuosity, but his sensibility of touch was incomparable; he made the impression of playing directly on the strings of the instrument with no intermediate mechanism; the effect was a miracle of poetry. [Nichols p. 96]

Louisa Liebich in The Musical Times:

On one occasion, after tea, Debussy played his first Prélude, 'Les danseuses de Delphes' to us. It was as yet unpublished. I have never heard more beautiful pianoforte playing. [...] In the intimity of his own room it was like hearing a poet reciting some of his own delicate lyrics. He had a soft, deep touch which evoked full, rich, many-shaded sonorities. [Nichols p. 202]

Marguerite Long:

... the colour that only he could get from his piano. He played mostly in half-tint but, like Chopin, without any hardness of attack. [...] His nuances ranged from a triple pianissimo to forte without ever becoming disordered in sonorities in which harmonic subtleties might be lost. [Long p- 19]

E. Robert Schmitz:

his variety of coloring was as great in performance as in composition”. [Schmitz p. 39]