from "Preludes for piano" Book 1
French composer Claude Debussy published The Engulfed Cathedral ("La cathédrale engloutie") in 1910 as the tenth prelude in his first of two volumes of twelve piano preludes. The Engulfed Cathedral is the quintessential example of French Impressionism, which used a musical depiction or allusion of an image or idea to bring meaning to the audience.
The image that Debussy is depicting in The Engulfed Cathedral is that of the legendary city of Y's (pronounced "Eess"). Once a beautiful and powerful city off the coast of France, Y's became rampant with sin and was swallowed by the ocean. Now on clear mornings when the water is transparent, the city rises up from the sea. Sounds can be heard of priests chanting, bells chiming, and the organ playing from across the sea until its eventual return underwater.
Debussy flawlessly weaves the story of Y's into a masterful piano prelude. In this particular arrangement, the vibraphone is used to help carry the melody, blending well with the tone of the piano and adding to the overall impressionistic nature. One can hear the tolling of the bells at the beginning and the slow and gallant ascent of the cathedral. Finally, at the pinnacle of the piece, the organ can be heard, represented by glorious chords and pedal tones. Following the grand entrance and exit of the organ, the cathedral sinks back down into the ocean and the organ is heard once more, but from underwater. And finally, the piece ends just as it began, with the distant chime of the bells.
|HAFABRA Music||Nº 857|
|For||• Wind Band|