Cello Sonata, 1st movement

Cello Sonata, 1st movement

Cello Sonata, 1st movement

Claude Debussy

Marc Coppey's masterclass

Produced by the Saline royale Academy English Music sheet annotated by  Marc  Coppey  is available 59 min Cello

Marc Coppey and Alex Olmedo address balancing between the piano and cello, phrasing, and understanding the context of Debussy's Sonata for Cello.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy

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The masterclass

About this masterclass

In this masterclass, Marc Coppey, and his student Alex Olmedo explore one of Debussy's last works Sonata for Cello, 1st movement. With this, Copy emphasizes the importance of delivering the emotions Debussy intended to convey at the end of his career.  

Furthermore, the professor discusses the context of this piece. Due to the war and his failing health, Debussy was very depressed at the time of this composition. Olmedo is encouraged to embody this gloom in his performance: imagine a man so short of breath, he can no longer sing long phrases. With this, Coppey instructs his student to approach long phrases as if the man is gasping for air.

What we learn in this masterclass

  1. Understanding the context of the piece.

  2. Bow movement when playing long phrases.

  3. Flow and direction in the music. 

  4. Balancing between the cello and piano.

Cello Sonata by Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy’s Cello Sonata is perhaps the most raw, unrefined, and emotionally vulnerable sonata of his three sonatas. The first movement presents a lyrical theme on the cello almost interchangeably, generating elated outpourings with ‘passive moanings.’ 

The middle movement contains three voices with a piano that has a binary and melodic role with the cello, accompanied by another cello playing low plucky pizzicato notes, almost imitating an upright jazz bass. The movement moves and shifts between darkness and light, and the cello’s opening ascending sequence brings about and incorporates a dancing theme. 
This composition is structured in the style of an 18th century mono-thematic sonata and uses pentatonic and whole-tone scales: a common feature in Debussy’s works. The piece is technically demanding with features like spiccato, flautando bowing, false harmonics, left-hand pizzicato, and more.

  • Date:27 October 2021
  • Producer: Produced by the Saline royale Academy
  • Duration:59 min
  • Spoken language:English

Sheet music

Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Marc Coppey’s feedback and comments.

Sheet music cello sonata, 1st movement

Marc Coppey

Marc  Coppey

In 1988 won the two highest prizes of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition: the first prize and the special prize for best Bach performance.

Marc Coppey is a critically acclaimed musician and is considered to be one of today’s leading cellists worldwide. Originally from Strasbourg, France, Coppey began his musical training at the Strasbourg Conservatory before attending the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and the University of Indiana Bloomington. In 1988 at only 18-years-old, Coppey won first prize and special prize for best Bach performance at the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany. Since then, Marc Coppey has regularly performed as a soloist with leading orchestras in collaboration with numerous distinguished conductors. Such conductors include but are not limited to: Eliahu Inbal, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Emmanuel Krivine, Alan Gilbert, and many more. He appears regularly in some of the most prestigious concert halls across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. In addition to his solo concert career, Marc Coppey is a professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and leads masterclasses all over the world. What’s more, Marc Coppey lends his expertise in the arts and is the Artistic Director of the Musicales de Colmar chamber music festival as well as the Musical Director of the Zagrebacki solisti (Zagreb Soloists). In 2014, he was named the Officer des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.

Debussy

Claude  Debussy

Claude Debussy was born in 1862, and is considered the originator and foremost representative of musical impressionism. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10 and never stopped pursuing music, first as a pianist and then as a composer. The parallel fifths, the cancellation of sensitive notes, tonal ambiguity, modal scales, and extended chords, among other things, are elements masterfully used by Debussy and serve to make his music true masterpieces recognized throughout the world. Debussy is one of the most important composers in history, and his influence exceeds even the limits of "classical music.”

In 1880, he began to compose music for the piano and give piano lessons. Later, he enrolled in Ernest Guiraud’s composition class, where he also began working as an accompanist in Victorine Moreau-Sainti’s singing classes. During this period in his life, Debussy struggled financially, but he began to cultivate his life. He explored other types of music and art forms, such as attending a Javanese gamelan performance at the Universal Exposition of 1889, discovering Mussorgsky, and befriending fellow musician and composer Ernest Chausson. Debussy’s career as a composer is closely linked to his relationship with Symbolist and Parnassian poets: Stéphane Mallarmé being an essential figure. These influences, together with the renewal of Impressionist painting, were aspects that pushed him towards the search for an original and personal artistic path. “I've had enough of music, of the same everlasting landscape; I want to see a Manet and hear some Offenbach,” he wrote while in Rome.

In a sad turn of events, Debussy was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and was operated on in 1915. He was never able to recover the fullness of his strength. He finished his Violin Sonata in March 1917, and three other sonatas remained unrealized. His last concert appearance was at Saint-Jean-de-Luz in September 1917, where he played the Violin Sonata with Gaston Poulet. He died in Paris six months later.

At the Conservatoire, he acquired classical knowledge: the likes of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schuman, Handel, and Liszt. Later on, he would recognize the artistic mastery of the Group of Five, which was made up of contemporary Russian composers (he acquired his taste for ancient and oriental modes from the Russians); the Japanese gamelan, and Chopin's music. Inspired by international art and culture, Claude Debussy’s music are masterpieces celebrated all around the world.

Photo credit: BNF Gallica

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