Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Claude Debussy: Complete Works by Lesure Numbers

This is a list of compositions by French impressionist composer Claude Debussy, organized in chronological order, created by musicologist François Lesure in 1977. The catalogue was necessary because Debussy did not use opus numbers, except for his String Quartet (labeled Op.10).

I compiled a playlist according to the Lesure catalog, featuring some of the best recordings on Spotify: Uchida's Etudes, Michelangeli's Images, Zimmerman's Préludes, and Boulez's Pelléas et Mélisande (it's not available on Spotify USA, so I added another Naxos recording). The playlist starts a bit slow, the first indisputable masterpiece, the String Quartet, appears in the middle of the whole program, after dozens of songs and other miniatures (quite a few gems in those early works, like the charming Beau soir, encore favourite Fantoches, and the Prix de Rome pieces). After that, it's basically a cluster of monumental works.

Here's the Spotify playlist: Claude Debussy: Complete Works by Lesure Numbers (306 tracks, total time: 1 day) Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Set it on random for Radio Debussy.

Debussy once said: "Music is a mysterious mathematical process whose elements are part of Infinity. ... There is nothing more musical than a sunset. " If you are new to this great composer, start from this wonderful compilation: Debussy at Dawn (judging by the mood of the album, it really be should titled Debussy at Dusk), also check out the audiobook that explains Pelléas et Mélisande in this Naxos playlist, and the Composer As Pianist playlist for historical recordings of Debussy plays Debussy. Lastly, Claude Debussy vs. Ricky Gervais.


  1. Footnote: And, of course, I'm intensely curious as to who your choice will be for the greatest French composer of all time, given you've started with two greats, Debussy and Ravel!

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