In Les angélus
and Les cloches
the texture is built around the sounds of bells. Debussy would of course exploit this sonority most famously in his piano prelude La cathédrale engloutie
, but we should be aware that in the age before the arrival of the noisy motor car the tolling of bells in cities was a larger component of the soundscape than it is now, and so is found regularly in the songs of the period. We should also be aware that, while Debussy obviously valued them as pure sound and perhaps for their intimation of a life beyond the material one, he never followed any orthodox religion.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2003