Trois chansons de Charles d’Orléans, L92 (1898-1908)

Claude Debussy

Debussy’s Trois Chansons de Charles d’Orléans, refer to the past through his choice of this fifteenth century poet. The first and third songs survive in an earlier version of 1898, which he made for a choir founded founded by his friend Lucien Fontaine. The decidedly modal style of these settings gave way, in the final version of 1908, to more elaborate, chromatic one. The imitative entries in the third song are the only patent exemples of this academic technique in Debussy’s published output and, knowing his views on musical academia, we may suppose that in his opinion “villainous winter” deserved no less. The beautiful central song was a new coinage of 1908. Debussy wrote that he found the poem “so full of sweet, interior music that—naturally—I cannot refrain from ‘exteriorising it’. Above all, Debussy cares for the words: one need only try changing notes at any point to discover how impeccably right his settings are.