Debussy - "Et La Lune Descend Sur Le Temple Qui Fut"
  • Classical music composed by Claude Debussy John Anderson performs "Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut", the second of Debussy's second book of Images. This movement ("And the Moon Descends on the Temple that is no more") Debussy dedicated to his friend, the critic and musicologist, Louis Laloy, who would later become one of his biographers. The piece frequently uses harmonies based on seconds, exotic scales, and parallel 4ths and 5ths to suggest, as Oscar Thompson put it, "the mystery of things ancient and immobile, as in a world that has been drugged and left behind". If in Cloches there is the suggestion of Vesper bells, here we are given much more the flavor of the Balinese gamelan. The harmonies are somehow hollow sounding, and even if the music somehow moves we have the impression of complete stasis, like the ancient pillars of a ruined temple. The loudest phrases only reach a piano marking, the rest entirely contained within a pianissimo: it hovers even closer to the edge of silence than did Cloches. It is only a dream image of a temple so ancient and remote that we enter the land of the mythical. Just as Mallarmé and the symbolist poets were making poetry not of ideas, but of just words, the "musicien français" was creating musical meaning not out of linear development or progression, but out of a static juxtaposition of sound events, with musical sense inherent in sonorous effect, a triumph of art for art's sake. Debussy, in spite of his Germanic conservatory training...

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