Debussy-Rameau by Víkingur Ólafsson - Vinyl - shop now at Vikingur Olafsson store


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Fresh from his hugely acclaimed and multi-award-winning album Johann Sebastian Bach, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson’s third Deutsche Grammophon recording pairs works by two revolutionary French composers separated by a century and a half: Jean-Philippe Rameau and Claude Debussy.

Debussy is most often called an impressionist – “People get lost a little bit in sound for the sake of sound”, Ólafsson comments. But the composer was also “a real perfectionist… there is this incredibly refined structure at work.” Rameau, “the bad boy of the French baroque”, likewise combined a strong sense of structure with a fondness for breaking conventions: “He broke the rules and paved the way for new ideas, new creativity, new spontaneity.” What unites the two composers, Ólafsson comments, is “a kind of freedom and discipline, juxtaposed”.

The album Debussy & Rameau alternates music by the two composers, creating an enthralling dialogue between them. Works are drawn from across both composers’ careers, with the Debussy selection including well-known miniatures such as La Fille aux cheveux de lin as well as the less familiar Prelude to La Damoiselle élue arranged for piano solo. Rameau’s works are mainly drawn from his Pièces de clavecin collections of between 1724 and 1741. One of the album’s centrepieces is Ólafsson’s own Rameau arrangement The Arts and the Hours.

Ólafsson’s album concludes with a piece that connects the two composers directly: Debussy’s Hommage à Rameau from Images book 1, a moving sarabande written as a tribute from one rule-breaking composer to another.


CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
1. La Damoiselle élue L. 69*: Prélude
   Pièces de Clavecin (1724)
2. Le rappel des oiseaux
3. Rigaudons I, II & double
4. Musette en rondeau
5. Tambourin
6. La villageoise. Rondeau
7. Gigues en rondeau I & II

8. Estampes L.108: 3. Jardins sous la pluie
   Children’s Corner L. 119
9. 3. Serenade for the Doll
10. 4. The Snow is dancing

Pièces de Clavecin (1724)
11. Les tendres plaintes. Rondeau
12. Les tourbillons. Rondeau
13. L’entretien des Muses

14. Préludes, Book 1, L. 125: Des pas sur la neige

Pièces de Clavecin (1724)
15. La joyeuse. Rondeau
16. Les Cyclopes. Rondeau

17. The Arts and the Hours 

18. Préludes, Book 1: La fille aux cheveux de lin
Très calme et doucement expressif
19. Préludes, Book 2, L. 123: Ondine. Scherzando

RAMEAU - Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts (1741)
20. Cinquième concert (Fifth Concert): La Cupis
      Quatrième concert (Fourth Concert):
21. L’indiscrète. Rondeau. Vivement
22. La Rameau
      Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin (1726/27)
23. La Poule
24. L’Enharmonique. Gracieusement
25. Menuets I & II
26. Les Sauvages
27. L’Égyptienne

28. Images, Book 1, L. 105: Hommage à Rameau

Víkingur Ólafsson piano

The “L” numbers (by François Lesure) are the latest ones,
different from Lesure’s original work list from 1977.