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Published on Sep 23, 2009
Arabesque No. 1 from Deux Arabesques
Aldo Ciccolini, piano
The Deux arabesques, L. 66 (Two Arabesques) is a pair of arabesques composed by Claude Debussy. The arabesques are two of Debussy's earliest works, composed between the years 1888 and 1891. Debussy was still in his twenties. Although quite an early work, the arabesques contain hints of Debussy's developing musical style. The suite is one of the very early impressionistic pieces of music, following the French visual art form. Debussy seems to wander through modes and keys, and achieves evocative scenes through music. This arabesque is in the key of E major. Like most impressionistic pieces for the piano, the opening arpeggio can suggest water flow. It eventually leads into a larger section beginning with a left hand arpeggio in E major and a descending right hand E major pentatonic progression. After a lightening of tone, the original progression returns and varies itself, turning briefly to F-sharp major, before returning to a satisfying E major section close. The second quieter B section is in A major, which starts with a gesture (E-D-E-C#), builds with rising triplets in the right hand and octaves in the left. The section ends with a bold pronouncement of the E-D-E-C# gesture, but transposed to the key of C major, played forte. The gesture is repeated in a higher register, with slight modifications resulting in a transposition back to the E major of the A section. In the middle of the recapitulation of the A section, the music moves to a higher register and descends, followed by a large pentatonic scale ascending and descending, becoming a V7 chord (B7), and resolving back to E major, before the descending right hand E major pentatonic progression is played an octave up. Both hands rise up the keyboard and closes with gentle E major chords.