1915 in Music

My music reviews for music published in 1915.

1. Claude Debussy: Etudes (10/10)

To my ears, the Etudes really don’t sound that difficult on first listen, but then I can’t even play “Heart and Soul” on a piano. That’s a joke, that.

The Etudes are apparently some of the hardest to play in the repertoire, but I wouldn’t know anything about that. I do know that they sound like few Etudes before them (at least those that I’ve heard). And the Images are similarly out of step with tradition, albeit more so. Here are piano pieces that in many ways threw out tradition yet, because they never broke with tonality like some other contemporary music, they sound to our modern years as distinctly part of that tradition. This appears to be Debussy’s genius a century on. Or at least to me. Of course, they also sound very nice, which helps.

2. Erik Satie: Avant-dernières pensées (8/10)

Pretty stuff, but relatively conventional for Satie and lacking some of the satirical wit of some of the other pieces from this era. I do like the idea that World War I was idiotic; that’s pretty damn accurate.

3. Gabriel Faure: Nocturne No. 12 in E minor, Op. 107 (8/10)

The 12th embraces (obvious) virtuosity so much more than Faure’s other nocturnes of the 20th century. The others are probably hard to play but this one sounds hard to play. It’s pretty out of step with the others which is probably why I find it so refreshing. It’s kind of unabashedly Romantic, to my ears, but I’m not sure I find fault with that at the moment.

4. Igor Stravinsky: Berceuses du chat (6/10)

These pieces were originally written for clarinets and voice, but what we saw were horns instead. I’m not sure what caused the change in instrumentation.

The music is engaging Stravinsky modernism but the brevity of them makes it hard to care about that as stand-alone pieces.

5. Gabriel Faure: Barcarole No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 106 (6/10)

This is very traditional-sounding to my ears. Not my favourite.

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