Daniel Barenboim, Face to face

Barenboim plays Debussy (concert & documentary)

Daniel Barenboim invites us to discover the imaginary world of Claude Debussy.

"Face to face" is how Claude Debussy had imagined Book I of his Preludes would be played rather than in a concert hall, even if he premiered these pieces himself in public. A few decades later (Book I of the Preludes was composed between December 1909 and February 1910), filmmaker Paul Smaczny fulfils the musician's dream by having the twelve preludes from Book I performed by Daniel Barenboim in the privacy of house of art deco design. A dancer, canvasses and readings are interspersed in the film the form of which is already an invitation to explore a Debussy fantasy.

But, beyond the concert, the documentary sketches a portrait of Claude Debussy through the tender mockeries of Erik Satie for his "colleague," the memories full of champagne of Stravinsky and many quotations by him that help to appreciate the music better. According to him "there is no Debussy school. I have no disciple. I am myself… The music is a mysterious form of mathematics the elements of which have something of the infinite." These mathematics are even more mysterious as far as he is concerned, and it is extremely difficult to put them into words.

Daniel Barenboim, in addition to playing the Preludes with elegance and subtlety, focuses on trying to pierce the Debussy secret. "Debussy defined himself as a French musician. But what is that? The possibility of associating unbridled imagination and a mind of mathematical precision."

Excerpts from:

  • Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, C. Debussy, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Georges Prêtre;
  • Nuages (Nocturnes), C. Debussy, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado;
  • Sonate pour flûte, alto et harpe, C. Debussy, Anna Garzuly, Karl Suske, Cornelia Smaczny.

Movie director : Paul Smaczny

Duration : 01 h 00 min
Production date : 1999
Production : © EuroArts Music International/ Brilliant media / VIDEAL
Available version(s) : EN



Comments on Daniel Barenboim, Face to face :