Claude Debussy: Arabesque No.2


Composed between 1888-1891, Claude Debussy’s set of two arabesques were some of the composer’s earlier works. The first in particular has remained a popular piece amongst audiences and performers alike. Although composed when Debussy was in his mid-twenties, the arabesques are a mere hint of what was to come from this famous impressionist composer. Debussy liked the shapes that arabesques follow to create natural effects, and so that spurred him on to compose two of his own.


The Music

As a stark contrast to Arabesque No.1, the second is marked ‘Allegretto scherzando’. Opening with trills in the upper register of the piano, the spritely character of this piece soon bursts forward. Set largely in G major, the bright tonality pairs nicely with the quick tempo. Similarly to the first in the set, this piece uses the pentatonic scale in a number of places to add a quintessential Debussy stamp onto the harmony. 

As with a number of Debussy’s later works, Arabesque No.2 is intricate, developmental and uses a huge range of the piano. Similarly to Arabesuque No.1, this piece also ends delicately and with poise, which is even more effective here after the whirlwind ride that came before it. A truly exciting duo of works for solo piano. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

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