Fireworks (Debussy), 4.57

Fireworks (orch. Feb-March 2009) is a piece for solo piano by Claude Debussy written in 1913. Published in his Second Preludes Book, the pieces, in general, look forward towards Debussy’s later style, which veer away from his Impressionistic patterns and methods and look forward toward his second period which is marked by integrating a higher degree of techniques that explore neoclassical objectivity and less on a Romantic era bravado and grandioseness.  However, because both Prelude books are underpinned by a high degree of pianistic idiomatic tendencies and mannerisms, these works (and especially Fireworks (or Feux d’artifice in French), rely on extraordinary lightness, brilliant gestures and a wispy, delicate interpretation, demanding a high degree of sophistication and sensitivity.  

This orchestration allows a maximum of color and rich, evocative textures to be not only transparent and ethereal but also to be bombastic and heavy-handed while using a minimum of musical material. The orchestra bristles as sparks fly around in the Woodwinds and auxiliary instruments where the pianist would glissando and make use of pianistically relatively easy trills, arpeggios and rapid chord passages.  Written as the most technically demanding of all the preludes in this book (and possibly the first book as well), the nuance of fluttering and tremoloing strings and winds paint evocative inflections as it attempts to depict a musical setting of fireworks above the Paris skyline.  This extremely highly detailed orchestration retains every pedaling overtone suggestion and makes use of the full orchestra’s array of possibilities in a Debussy-like orchestration that quickly shifts its harmonic and textural balances with fleeting dexterity and virtuosity and dazzling special effects.