Daniel Barenboim invites us to discover the phantasmagorical universe of Claude Debussy.
Claude Debussy thought Book I of his Préludes (composed between December 1909 and February 1910) should be played "among four eyes", rather than in a concert hall, despite the composer himself having performed the pieces in public. Decades later, filmmaker Paul Smaczny fulfills the musician's wish by having Daniel Barenboim perform the 12 pieces from Book I in the intimacy of an art deco-style house. A dancer, paintings, and readings punctuate the film, inviting us into a Debussyan phantasmagoria.
More than a concert, the documentary uses the writings of Claude Debussy and his contemporaries to help us better appreciate his music. Highlights include Eric Satie's friendly teasing, Stravinsky's champagne-laced memories, and numerous citations from the composer himself, such as, "There isn't a Debussy school. I don't have any discipline. I am myself...Music is a mysterious mathematics whose elements participate in the infinite."
Daniel Barenboim not only elegantly and subtly performs the Préludes, but also lends his efforts to unlocking Debussy's secrets. As he puts it, "Debussy defined himself as a French musician. But what is that? The possibility of associating unbridled imagination and a mind of mathematical precision."
- 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.