The 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth in 2012 was marked by a number of concerts, conferences and publications. Among these last were four hitherto unpublished songs edited by Denis Herlin who, on the basis of the handwriting and form of signature on the manuscripts, dates them probably to 1882. Debussy dedicated them to his friend Henry Kunkelmann, whom he probably met in César Franck’s Conservatoire organ class. Although none of them is dedicated to Mme Vasnier, it’s hard not to suppose he was thinking of her in L’archet
at the lines ‘Elle avait une voix étrange, Musicale, de fée ou d’ange’, given that one of his dedicatory notes elsewhere refers to her ‘bouche de fée mélodieuse’. Harmonically, the most interesting moment comes on the line ‘Fais un archet avec mes tresses’, where we find the Debussy of the future.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2014