Friday, April 2, 2010

Debussy's Prelude Book 1 No. 10 - The Sunken Cathedral

Debussy composed two books of preludes. This recording is from the first book and is No. 10 - "La cathédrale engloutie" (The Sunken Cathedral). This work was inspired by the legend of the city of Ys (pronounced "ees" - as in "geese"). There are many variations on this legend, so I will only briefly describe the more common elements among the legends. Ys was built below sea level and had a strong city wall that kept the water from entering and engulfing the city. There was a single gate to the city and only the king held the key which could unlock the gate. The king's daughter, Dahut, led the beautiful city into a downward spiral of sin and immorality. Eventually, Dahut was tricked into stealing the key to the gates whereupon the gates where opened during a tremendous storm which then submerged the city beneath the sea. As the legend goes, the bells of the church can still be heard ringing from beneath the sea on particularly calm days.

Debussy's work is inspired from a variation on the legend that concludes with the city occasionally rising from the sea to serve as a reminder of what destruction came upon the great city due to its corruption and sin. The sea begins to rise with the sound of the church bells as it emerges from the sea. This eventually is followed by the resounding and powerful tones of the church organ as the city is fully risen. The city then sinks back into the sea to await another time when it might rise again. This prelude of Debussy's follows this storyline quite closely and the sounds of the bells and the organ can be heard as the work progresses. It is a powerful piece of music full of imagery.

I hope that you enjoy my recording of Debussy's "Sunken Cathedral"! You can download my recording by visiting this page of my website, I also encourage you to subscribe to my free iTunes or Zune podcast so that you can automatically receive new recordings as they are published. You may also use the embedded media player below (where available) to listen to this recording.

Jeremiah Jones