Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marcelle Meyer plays Debussy

Marcelle Meyer met Debussy at the premiere performance of Erik Satie's Parade, for which she was the pianist. To give you an idea of the production: the mise-en-scene was by Jean Cocteau, the sets were painted by Picasso, and the choreography was by Leonide Massine, with orchestra conducted by Ernest Ansermet - the 20-year-old Marcelle Meyer was the pianist. Debussy was present at this event, which took place just under a year before he died.

Meyer is said to have been coached by the ailing Debussy in how to play his Preludes, and certainly her playing is unique in its combination of impressionistic colours and timing. Meyer also studied with Ricardo Vines, who had premiered several of the composer's works, and she clearly had insight into his art. While she recorded the two books of Debussy Preludes in 1957 - a recording that was unissued until 1989! - she also committed 3 of them to disc in 1947, among them an incredible "La terrasse des audiences au claire de lune" in which time seems to stand still. Her tone production and dynamic range are perfectly proportioned, and she stretches phrases in a way that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats. This recording was never issued on LP and had its first CD issue on a set of her complete commercial recordings produced by EMI France in 2008.


I have been more active on my facebook fan page recently, The Piano Files with Mark Ainley, posting regular YouTube clips and the like. I had originally intended for this blog to be for longer features, and yet I see the value of adding some of what has been going on on facebook, in addition to longer features. Stay tuned for some of the clips that have been getting great feedback on that page - and if you are on facebook, join the page!