On Tuesday evening, April 24, resident accompanist and piano instructor Beverly Babcock and artist-in-residence and piano instructor Brian Ganz performed “Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra” by Claude Debussy in St. Mary’s Hall.
Ganz played the piano accompaniment while Babcock played a piano version of the orchestra part.
Though this concert was not meant to be in the style of one of Ganz’s piano talks, Ganz spent the first half of the concert time talking about the piece’s formal components and its interesting history.
Ganz explained that the “Fantaisie” was one of Debussy’s earlier works.
In his early years, Debussy was extremely concerned about the impression he was making on the public with his work and did not feel that this piece was good enough to be released to the public.
The piece was composed in about 1890 but was never performed in Debussy’s lifetime. It was first performed in 1918 but since it is so uncharacteristic of Debussy’s work, it never managed to catch the public eye (or ear, so to speak).
Ganz, however, feels differently about the quality of the piece. He described the piece as “hauntingly beautiful” and like “sonic massage oils.” The piece blurs the line between major and minor chords and is full of exotic sounds, something that Debussy was very fond of creating.
Before performing the piece, Ganz and Babcock played parts of it to direct the audience in what to listen for as the pianists performed the piece. They played the various hidden themes that can be heard during the piece, along with various chords and fascinatingly exotic sounds.
Babcock and Ganz performed on two separate pianos together on the stage. They played through the three movements of the piece, each movement with its own theme and individual sound. There is an overarching theme, however, that embraces the entire piece that can be heard throughout each movement.
The exotic piece was very well-received by the audience, who gave Babcock and Ganz a standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert.