La cathédrale engloutie
Urtext Edition, paperbound
Pages: 7, Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 643 · ISMN M-2018-0643-3
Level of difficulty (Piano): medium (Level 6)
This single edition – it is number 10 in the first volume of the Préludes (HN 383) of 1910 – shows the extent of Debussy’s imagination as he conjures up the old city of Ys that has sunk into the sea. Debussy enjoyed playing this piece himself and also left behind a recording on piano roll. This gives important insights into his tempi. The term prélude, reminiscent of Chopin, makes clear the return to traditional forms, which the now established composer was slowly embracing once again. The programmatic title, as with all of the Préludes, is only given at the end of the piece, thus underlining its passing significance.
... is nu verkrijgbaar als losse uitgave in de Urtext-editie van het gerenommeerde Henle Verlag. Zoals we gewend zijn van deze uitgever is het notenbeeld zeer rustig en overzichtelijk: het is een genot om muziek uit deze uitgave te spelen of om de partituur mee te lezen bij het beluisteren van opnamen.
This is a worthwhile publication, ... it is a magnificent composition in its own right. ... In this Henle edition, there is a specific reference that Debussy doubles the speed between bars 7 and 12, and between 22 and 83, being completely contrary to what is printed. Since these sections take up most of the 89 bar piece the eternal question is – why did he write it this way if he intended to interpret it otherwise? ... Even though the piano world is very much aware of the "discrepancy", this is the first time that I have seen it referred to in an edition of the piece. Henle are to be applauded for doing this, ... I recommend that all students of the piano obtain a copy of this separate publication. ...
[Music Teacher Magazine]
The levels of difficulty of the
piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
The levels of difficulty of the piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
|1||easy||Bach, Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, nos. 4 and 5|
|2||Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier I, no. 1 Prelude C major|
|3||Beethoven, Piano Sonatas op. 49,1 and 2|
|4||medium||Grieg, Lyric Pieces op. 12, no. 4|
|5||Schumann, Fantasy Pieces op. 12, no. 1|
|6||Chopin, Nocturnes op. 27, nos. 1 and 2|
|7||difficult||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3|
|8||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 81a|
|9||Schumann, Toccata op. 7|
"I don't know what 'difficult' means. Either you can play or you can't" – this was the rather terse comment by the great violinist Nathan Milstein, on being asked about the unbelievable difficulty of Niccolo Paganini's Caprice no. 1.
The relativity of the evaluation of difficulty in music immediately becomes clear. Yet I gladly take up this great challenge, presented to me by G. Henle Publishers. For I am aware of how useful a guide like this can be, both from my own experience as well as that of many colleagues. In particular so as to be able to identify "appropriate" works. For example for music teachers, who teach at very different levels, from beginners to those preparing for music conservatories, but also for all those interested amateurs for whom this guide is intended.
After careful deliberation I have settled on nine levels of difficulty, which I have divided into three groups: 1–3 (easy), 4–6 (medium), 7–9 (difficult). A number of parameters have been considered when assessing the level of difficulty. I have not just looked at the number of fast or slow notes to be played, or the chord sequences; of central importance are also the complexity of the piece's composition, its rhythmic complexities, the difficulty of reading the text for the first time, and last but not least, how easy or difficult it is to understand its musical structure. I have defined "piece" as being the musical unit of a sonata, or a single piece in a cycle, which is why Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Part I comprises a total of 48 levels of difficulty (each prelude and fugue is considered separately), Schumann's Sonata in f sharp minor op.11 only has a single number. My assessment is measured by the ability to prepare a piece for performance.
While assessing the pieces, it became clear that the medium level of difficulty (4–6) is the trickiest. Now and again this means that a piece is judged as a "3/4", even if it only deserved a "3" as far as piano technique is concerned. An example of such a "borderline" case (easy/medium) is Schumann's "Scenes from Childhood" op. 15 Von fremden Ländern und Menschen or at the other end "6/7" part of Bach's "English Suites". And of course within a main category there are also "from-to" evaluations (e.g. 7/8).
Any evaluation of art or music will always be subjective, even if the aim was to be objective. Despite the fact that I have endeavoured to be as careful as possible, I am all too aware that the results of my work can be called into question, and am therefore grateful for any suggestions you might have.
Prof. Rolf Koenen © 2010