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Children's Corner, L119

composer
1906/8; dedicated 'To my beloved Chouchou, with the tender excuses of her father for that which follows'

 
This charming suite for piano was dedicated by Debussy to 'my dear little Chouchou, with her father’s affectionate apologies for what follows'. Apologies for his English rather than the music perhaps; 'Jimbo' and 'Golliwogg' were affectionately retained by his publishers for posterity.

Debussy’s daughter was nearly four years old when Children’s Corner was published in 1908, and two years later André Caplet, a close friend of Debussy’s, conducted his own orchestral arrangement of the suite in New York. Debussy praised the orchestration as 'gorgeously apparelled' but asked Caplet in some concern for a report on the performance: 'I should be sorry if it looked pretentious.'

The first piece suggests a small child struggling at the piano keyboard with fingering exercises. Then come depictions of two of Chouchou’s dolls, the first her favourite stuffed elephant being lullabyed to sleep. The snow is dancing finds Chouchou sitting at her nursery window, while the plaintive piping tones in the number which follows shows Debussy at his most pastoral.

Golliwogg’s cake-walk—the best-known item in the set—mixes jazz and Wagner, whose Prelude to Tristan and Isolde is briefly satirised. Debussy’s former reverence towards the German master had by now turned into something akin to total opposition.

from notes by Edward Johnson © 2019

Recordings

Debussy: Engulfed Cathedral
Studio Master: SIGCD2092Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Debussy: Piano Music
CDS44061/33CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service
Debussy: Piano Music
Studio Master: CDA68139Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Debussy: Piano Music
Studio Master: CDA68161Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Debussy: Solo Piano Music
Studio Master: CDA67898Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Debussy: Suite bergamasque, Estampes, Children's Corner & Pour le piano
CDA66495Archive Service
For Children
CDH55194

Details

No 1: Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Track 11 on CDA66495 [2'13] Archive Service
Track 1 on CDA67898 [2'10]
Track 10 on CDA68139 [2'23]
Track 13 on CDA68161 [2'21]
Track 22 on CDH55194 [2'13]
Track 11 on CDS44061/3 CD1 [2'13] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service
arranger

Track 10 on SIGCD2092 [2'22] Download only
No 2: Jimbo's lullaby
No 3: Serenade for the doll
No 4: The snow is dancing
No 5: The little shepherd
Track 15 on CDA66495 [2'14] Archive Service
Track 5 on CDA67898 [2'50]
Track 14 on CDA68139 [2'22]
Track 17 on CDA68161 [2'21]
Track 23 on CDH55194 [2'03]
Track 15 on CDS44061/3 CD1 [2'14] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service
arranger

Track 14 on SIGCD2092 [2'17] Download only
No 6: Golliwogg's cake-walk

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