Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra
Related Artists/CompaniesClaude Debussy
About the Work
To be sure, this is not at all a characteristic work, in its treatment of either the piano or the orchestra: it shows the influence of Fauré and Franck, and we might understand that the still young Debussy, who had yet to establish that sought-after personal style in such works as the String Quartet and The Afternoon of a Faun, might have felt the Fantasy was not was seeking in that respect. It was at his own wish that it was neither performed nor published in his lifetime. Historically, however, and also in its own right, the work is well worth the attention of both the performer and the listener.
Here the piano does not figure as a solo instrument in the conventional concerto sense, but rather as an equal partner with the orchestra, a primus inter pares. . There are, however, the conventional three movements, the final two in this case linked together without a gap. The principal theme of the first movement ( Andante—Allegro, in G major) is discoursed upon by the flutes and oboes at some length before it is entrusted to the piano; fragments of it emerge as kernels on which the main body of the movement is developed, eventually intertwined with an intriguing secondary theme prior to the vigorous coda. The second movement ( Lento e molto espressivo, in F-sharp) is a lyric piece, in the nature of an intermezzo despite its extended dimensions, a tranquil and balanced dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra that leads directly into the concluding Allegro molto (again in G major), whose energetic theme is first stated by the oboes and whose lively pace is interrupted only once—by a dreamy, almost weightless episode in A-flat.