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Friday, August 17, 2012

Second Sight: Claude Debussy

If I were a music critic, this blog would be full of commentary regarding the depth and texture of Michael Castellaw's piano playing. I would wax poetic about his note manipulation and gift for melody. I might even critique him for choppy transitions between movements during one or two compositions - whatever that means.

Couldn't find a Debussy cartoon...

The fact is, I love eighties music and smooth jazz. But I'm not an aficionado, if you know what I mean. The only instrument I can play is the stereo. However, my spirit is moved by particularly well-played music, as I'm sure all spirits are from time to time.

My first exposure to what I'll refer to as symphony was during sixth grade. I had never heard classical music before and as I sat in that darkened theater and listened to the orchestra play, I was astonished...affected. To someone with musical talent like Mr. Castellaw, a similar experience would probably be the genesis of a musical career. In my case it planted seeds that led me to appreciate what is admittedly a very shallow pool of classical music including Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and, yes, Debussy.

If I asked most people I know if they liked Claude Debussy, they would probably say, "Who?" But if we were watching the end of Ocean's 11 (the 2001 remake) and I asked them if they liked the song that plays when the gang are gathered in front of the Bellagio, I suspect most would say, "Yeah, that's cool."

Which brings us to Second Sight: Claude Debussy. Castellaw brings a touch to this piano work that stirs the same, spirit-affecting feelings experienced in a dark auditorium so many years ago.

Honestly, I don't know the significance of Deux Arabesques, Suite Bergamasque, Images: Book II, or Preludes: Book II; I do know that Clair de Lune, the haunting tune playing in the background of the video clip above, and part of the Suite Bergamasque, is played here with a finesse that belies the lack of orchestral support.

You can write me off as a know-nothing hack; a non-musical person blindly (deafly?) promoting a friend who happens to play piano. Or you can listen to Michael Castellaw's Second Sight: Claude Debussy and judge for yourself.

If you love piano, you'll do yourself a disservice if you pass this by.


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