Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon
  • Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon
  • Debussy (Philippe Cassard)
  • Complete Piano Works

Debussy, “Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon”*

Philippe Cassard, piano

*This is Debussy’s last composition. He wrote the manuscript as a gift for his coal merchant, who provided the fuel for his household during the wartime winter of 1917. As such, it was not meant to be published, but one could nonetheless see it as musical epitaph. Debussy returns to the style of the Préludes with several quotations from them, the most obvious being “Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir”. And he also chose a line from a poem of Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil as the title : “Evenings illumined by the glow of coals afire” (in The Balcony). But perhaps another sentence from this poem describes it best : The resurrection of glad moments is an art I know.

Vocabulaire français

chape (nf) - tread (of a tire)

net (adj) - clear, distinct

épais (adj) - thick

superficie (nf) - area, surface area

nocif (adj) - harmful, noxious

préconiser (v) - to advise, recommend

estomper (v) - to shade, dim

obscurcir (v) - to obscure, darken

usine (nf) - factory

agglomération (nf) - urban area

dissiper (v) - to disperse, clear

censé (adj) - supposed, meant

balayer (v) - to sweep

laxisme (nm) - permissiveness, laxity

charbon (nm) - coal, charcoal

Henri Gervex (French, 1852-1929)

Charcoal Carrier. Study for “Le Quai de la Villette” in Paris (Le Coltineur de charbon. Etude pour “Le Quai de la Villette” à Paris), 1882

Oil on canvas, 117 x 70 cm

Palais des Beaux-arts de Lille, France