Claude Debussy

Tarantelle styrienne (Danse), for piano (or orchestra), L. 77 (69)

    Description by Meredith Gailey

    Appreciation of Claude Debussy's Tarantelle styrienne (Danse) is enhanced by an understanding of the significance and strengths of his early piano compositions, which were probably written in the 1880s. Often seriously underrated, their evanescent charm is colored by rich influences including playful archaism and witty neo-classicalism. Similar to short stories, these compositions must often be built on a single, succinct idea that is presented, developed, and concluded in a satisfactory manner, within a very small amount of space. For Debussy's rather rare achievement of this goal, his early piano works have been called "master-cameos, each of which is perfect in form and shape, refined to the barest essentials and yet luxuriantly rounded and complete." These youthful pieces fall under one of two distinct categories, song-like ballads or pure dance forms, and they reveal the composer's extraordinary understanding of the piano through their "symphonic" tonal colors and sensual harmonies. They were influenced by, as were all his early works, composers such as Massenet, Delibes, Chabrier, and Fauré, by the commedia dell'arte clown characters Pierrot, Harlequin, and company, and by poets such as Verlaine and Mallarmé.

    Tarantelle styrienne was written in 1890 after Debussy returned from Villa Medici, Italy, where he had spent over two years studying as part of the requirements of the Prix de Rome, which he received in 1883. It was after his close relationship ceased with Marie-Blanche Vasnier and around the time that he became a companion to Gabrielle Dupont (aka Gaby), that this and other piano works appeared. The title shifts the traditionally Italian tarantella to Austria (Styria) and the Slavic influences that affected the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The composition was paired with Ballade slave; their picturesque titles were shortened in 1903, and they became known, respectively, as Danse and Ballade. Both works recall the composer's travels to Russia with Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck (early 1880s).

    Considered the king of his early works, Danse is a robust, colorful piece with a sparkling middle section that shows a slight influence of Watteau and is permeated by the images of the commedia dell'arte. Its whirling syncopation is felt in the sprightly alternation of 6/8 patterns (like a true tarantella, not too fast) with 3/4 waltz rhythm. It contained the seed of his later compositional style, especially in the translucent, delicate tones of the dominant portion. For example, Masques, another underrated piano works, appeared in 1904, recalling this composition. Debussy's works were rewritten by Maurice Ravel, who transcribed Danse for orchestra as an act of homage after the composer's death. Since its first publication, the original piano work has been widely recorded.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Naïve V 5449
    2018 Menuetto Classics null
    2018 SWR Music SWR 19044CD
    2018 Warner Classics 570940
    2018 Musica Viva MV 120
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon 4798642
    2018 Warner Classics null
    2018 Warner Classics null
    2018 Apr APR 6023
    2018 MSR Classics MS 1678
    2018 Decca
    2018 Decca
    2018 dB Productions dBCD 187
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295869199
    2016 Naxos 8573124
    2015 IBS IBC 72014
    2014 Dorian Sono Luminus DSL 92175
    2014 Alto ALC 1221
    2013 Naïve V 5345
    2012 Naxos 8509002
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94415
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099995591
    2012 Chandos CHAN 107435
    2012 Decca
    2012 Hyperion CDA 67898
    2012 Alto 4002
    2012 Genuin GEN 12227
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4790056
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Onyx ONYX 4095
    2011 Atma / ATMA Classique 2671
    2011 Centaur Records CRC3094/95/96/97
    2011 Regis / Regis Records RRC 4010
    2011 BIS BISCD 1405
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 Documents / Membran 233082
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2010 Warner Classics
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93900
    2009 Tudor Records 731
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 2908209
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926508
    2009 Medici Masters 17
    2008 Onyx ONYX 4028
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 Westfälische Kammerphilharmonie Gütersloh CD 006
    2007 ATMA Classique 2377
    2007 Simax 1297
    2007 Harmonia Mundi 901947/48
    2007 Chandos 10443
    2007 Ivory Classics IC77001
    2007 Erato 284668
    2007 Union Square Music 46
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946365240
    2006 Philips 4757301
    2006 RTVE Classics 65185
    2005 Arts Music 47840
    2005 Brilliant 92765
    2005 Erato
    2005 Talent Records 95
    2004 Naxos 8555800
    2004 ASV 711
    2004 Decca 000213002
    2004 Arts Music 47578
    2004 ASV / Sanctuary 402
    2004 Ivory Records 73006
    2003 Archipel 103
    2003 Chandos 10144
    2003 Decca 000125602
    2003 Tall Poppies 165
    2003 Scandinavian Classics 220527
    2003 Brilliant 6430
    2003 Hungaroton 32106
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 5 75526-2
    2002 Hungaroton 32088/90
    2002 Analekta 23151
    2002 Andante AND1978
    2001 Meridian Records 84417
    2001 Tahra 409-412
    2001 CBC Records 5080
    2000 Novalis 150134
    2000 Stradivarius 33363
    2000 Cala Records 1024
    2000 Decca 460 247-2DH2
    2000 Marston 52023-2
    2000 Pearl GEMMCD0070
    1999 Pearl 9928
    1999 ASV 506
    1999 Meridian Records 84379
    1999 Naxos 505029
    1999 Music & Arts 4898
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 72673
    1998 Denon Records 18047
    1998 Teldec 18959
    1998 Digital Sound 1037
    1997 Nimbus Records 1773
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 070-2GTA2
    1997 Quicksilva 432
    1997 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243565855
    1997 Reference Recordings RRCD79
    1996 Naxos 504010
    1996 Nimbus NI8807
    1996 EBS 6046
    1996 Globe Records 6034
    1996 EMI Angel / EMI Music Distribution 69225
    1996 Forlane 16566
    1996 Classic Digital 1002
    1995 Wergo WER 6242-2
    1995 Naxos 553290
    1995 Virgin 61206
    1995 VAI Audio 1028
    1994 Philips 438721
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 53973
    1994 Pearl 9090
    1994 Naxos 550218
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 53256
    1993 CBC Records 91
    1992 Cala Records 1002
    1992 Nimbus 5160
    1992 Vox 5063
    1992 Teldec 74006
    1991 Decca 417611
    Grammofono 2000 78772
    Arlecchino 168
    Brilliant 92765/4
    EMI Music Distribution 54451
    Pellarin Multimedia 37052
    Denon Records 5196443
    Erato 94827
    Madrigal Audio
    Valmonte Records
    Fone 08
    Ades 13283
    Denon Records 75001
    Brilliant 6430/4
    Van Geem-Zeltsman
    Saga Classics 3377
    Denon Records 78929
    Magic Talent 48044
    Magic Talent 48098
    Klavier Records 11101