Images pour orchestre by Claude Debussy. Performed by The Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez. Paintings by Carlos de Haes and Claude Lorraine Sections: 1. Gigues (0:00) 2. Iberia: I. Par les rues et par les chemins (7:30) II. Les parfums de la nuit (14:30) III. Le matin d’un jour de fête (22:00) 3. Rondes de printemps (26:20)
Images pour orchestre is an orchestralcomposition in three sections by Claude Debussy, written between 1905 and 1912. Debussy had originally intended this set of Images as a two-piano sequel to the first set of Images for solo piano, as described in a letter to his publisher Durand as of September 1905. However, by March 1906, in another letter to Durand, he had begun to think of arranging the work for orchestra rather than two pianos.
The original title of Gigues was Gigues tristes. Debussy used his memories of England as inspiration for the music, in addition to the song “Dansons la gigue” by Charles Bordes the Tyneside folk tune “The Keel Row“.
Controversy exists over the role of André Caplet in the orchestration of Gigues. Robert Orledge and Williametta Spencer are two writers, for example, who have accepted Caplet as assisting with the orchestration. In contrast, François Lesure has stated, based on manuscript examination in the Bibliothèque National (MS 1010), that Caplet did not assist with the orchestration.
II. Ibéria (1905–1908)
Ibéria is the most popular of the three orchestral Images and itself forms a triptych within a triptych. The three sections of Ibéria are:
Par les rues et par les chemins (“In the streets and by-ways”)
Les parfums de la nuit (“The fragrance of the night”)
Le matin d’un jour de fête (“The morning of the festival day”)
The music is inspired by impressions of Spain. Richard Langham Smith has commented on Debussy’s own wish to incorporate ideas of juxtaposing elements of the visual arts in musical terms, including a quote from Debussy to Caplet from a letter of 26 February 1910:
You can’t imagine how naturally the transition works between ‘Parfums de la nuit’ and ‘Le Matin d’un jour de fête. Ça n’a pas l’air d’être écrit.
Matthew Brown has briefly commented on Debussy’s use of techniques such as incomplete progressions, parenthetical episodes and interpolations in Ibéria.
III. Rondes de printemps (“Round dances of spring”) (1905–1909)
Debussy used two folk tunes, “Nous n’irons plus au bois” and “Do, do l’enfant do” in this movement. Brown, Dempster and Headlam have analyzed the tonal structure of this movement.