Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven / Vincent Peirani / Quatuor Debussy / Franck Tortiller

Claude Debussy: le jazz - Preludes for a Quartet

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As the centenary year of Debussy's death approaches its end, you may have been wanting a real left-field entry in the catalog, and here's one of them. It's not clear from the graphics what's happening, and even the rather involved notes do not fully give an idea of what's going on. Briefly, the music is in no way a survey of Debussy's relationship to jazz, which was rather slight anyway; his ragtime pieces, like Golliwog's Cakewalk, basically novelties, are not even included. Instead, Preludes for a Quartet offers jazz interpretations of Debussy's piano preludes, set for string quartet. This sounds rather involved, and reading the booklet notes you may feel that the whole project is diffuse, but give the music a chance on its own terms and you'll find instead that the complexity of the jazz-classical crossover enterprise has been respected. The notion of interpreting impressionist harmonies as jazz has precedent: it was one of the pillars of the expansion of jazz language executed by Miles Davis and Bill Evans in the 1950s. But the idea has here been attractively elaborated. There are two layers to the process, the string quartet and, in five of the pieces, added jazz instruments. Furthermore, those five pieces are credited as compositions by their respective soloists; the string quartet performances are designated as transcriptions, but this does not mean that they too have not been approached in an improvisatory spirit. In most of the former, several compositions by Debussy are combined, but sample A l'ombre de la Cathédrale (In the Shadow of the Cathedral), for string quartet, piano, and double bass. Here pianist Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven respects Debussy by departing from him and evoking the images of the original in a new way. Highly experimental, to be sure, but entirely listenable.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 11:06 Amazon
2 02:44 Amazon
3 02:54 Amazon
4 03:56 Amazon
5 13:19 Amazon
6 02:31 Amazon
7 10:05 Amazon
8 03:05 Amazon
9 13:57 Amazon
10 02:44 Amazon
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