I grew up on Debussy’s music – Syrinx for solo f lute, played over and over by my brother for Grade whatever; the Golliwogg’s Cake Walk, which used to be Grade 6 piano, but I have a suspicion it’s now been shoved into 7 or even 8. And, of course, the Arabesque No. 1, played by every aspiring teenage pianist. Playing his music was always so much fun – serious music that didn’t seem at all serious, jazz that our music teachers would instantly sanction. And Debussy’s innate skill of writing for the piano meant that everything fell nicely under the fingers. Maximum effect, minimum effort. Of course, I’m not talking about the harder pieces – oh no. But in general, I’ll always see Debussy as one of the most gracious of composers who understands that to be appreciated, it helps if performers don’t hate you from the start.
Before we’d even started thinking about our Debussy special issue, pianist Joseph Middleton picked up the phone to suggest the programme for this month’s remarkable cover CD – a collection of songs by two masters of the genre: Debussy (naturally) and Mozart, sung by a stellar quartet of singers and accompanied, in his usual stylish way, by Middleton himself. I do hope you enjoy the mingled, perfumed worlds of 18th-century Austria and early 20th-century Paris – contrasting but utterly complementary. Oliver Condy Editor