French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet talks to Francis Merson about Debussy, transcriptions and the moon in the lead-up to his performances in Sydney.

For your program at Sydney’s City Recital Hall you’ve chosen three pieces by Debussy: Clair de Lune, Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fûtand La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune. What do these pieces have in common, apart from the moon?

Well, one of the themes of this program is the night, but apart from that, I deliberately chose these three pieces as they reflect three distinct periods of Debussy’s production. Harmonically and structurally there is a huge gap from the irresistible simplicity of Clair de Luneto the complexity of La terrasse– just look at the score. La terrassehas three staves of music rather than the usual two: the texture is so subtle and complex that the composer chosen to lay it out almost like an orchestra score. The complexity of the musical phenomena and the oppositions in the piece are mind-blowing – and it’s considered a prelude! It is the emotional pinnacle of Book II of Debussy’s preludes.

Did you have a pianist whose Debussy you idolised when growing...

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