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Uploaded on Aug 4, 2009
The fifth piece from Claude Debussy's "Children's Corner Suite", composed for piano and later orchestrated by Andre Caplet, 'The Little Shepherd', is performed here by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, led by the great Charles Dutoit.
Where Debussy's piano version of this piece was, arguably, somewhat 'harsh' (but still soft, in my opinion), Caplet orchestrated the piece to be very delicate. The piece, as transcribed by Caplet, is much more friendly to the ear of those who prefer soft and subtle melody and harmony. Debussy's piece for piano, though I do love it and it's harmonies are lovely, is not nearly as plush as Caplet's orchestration. Again, ever the "symbolist", Debussy paints a picture with the keyboard, evoking misty, dream-like "memories" of country life...
The second photo you'll see is of Debussy on picnic with his daughter, Claude-Emma, whom he adored and affectionately called Chouchou. Debussy dedicated the entire Children's Corner Suite to Chouchou and would later dedicate a Ballet Suite, "La Boite a joujoux" ("The Toy Box" or "The Toy Shop", depending upon translation), to his beloved Claude-Emma, so named after her father, obviously, and mother, Emma Bardac. Sadly, Chouchou passed away from diphtheria in 1919 at the young age of 13, only a year after Debussy's untimely death due to colon cancer.
Still, this Suite is considered to be one of Debussy's best compositions and it is certainly one of his most difficult to perform on piano; it is a beautiful example of what the master composer did to change the musical landscape forever. Caplet's transcription is wonderful and carries the symbolism of dear Debussy's work elegantly and with flair.