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La Cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral)

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The Gió Riverside

Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (08/26/19)
Composer: Debussy, Claude / trans. Roques, Léon
Sample Producer: Inspired Acoustics
Sample Set: Esztergom
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Impressionistic
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

His lifestyle was often controversial and complex, but I won't get involved in that discussion.

The work was transcribed by Léon Roques ( 1839-1923) who is best known for his transcriptions of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. This transcription is part of a group of 12, published by Durand in 1911.

In 1909 and 1910, Claude Debussy wrote a series of 12 preludes for solo piano. Among them is the mysteriously titled, “La Cathédrale engloutie” which translates to The Submerged (or The Sunken) Cathedral. A quintessential example of musical impressionism, the piece depicts the rise of a cathedral from the water and subsequent return to the depths – complete with bells chiming, priests chanting, and organ playing.

The full description of this interesting story and legend can be found here:

It is an interesting read!

Debussy's own description of the work is as follows: "The opening of the piece gently brings in the cathedral, out of the water, with a melody that resembles waves. Debussy wrote in Peu à peu sortant de la brume (Emerging from the fog little by little). Then after a section marked Augmentez progressivement (Slowly growing), the cathedral emerges and the grand organ is heard with a powerful fortissimo. This is the loudest part of the piece. The cathedral then sinks back down into the ocean and the organ is heard once more, but this time from under water. Finally, it is out of sight and only the bells are heard at a distant pianissimo."

I chose the Esztergom organ because I wanted a "mystical effect" with the massive acoustic. This organ is hard to manage, and I could not always obtain the sounds I wanted.

I hoped for an "other wordly" outcome...

The score and photos are attached below.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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