“Les cailloux dans l’eau : l’infinité de la musique française pour piano” performed by Daniel Schreiner

American pianist Daniel Schreiner presents a solo recital celebrating the experimental dynamism of French piano music, the result of a year of study at Paris’s La Schola Cantorum and the Fondation des États-Unis. Featuring a panoramic selection of Préludes by Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Henri Dutilleux, and Guy Sacre, Schreiner’s concert includes short film collaborations with five visual artists from the Fondation des États-Unis, responding to French piano music’s vibrancy and creative freedom.

As part of my studies this year in Paris, I have been exploring the development of 20th century French piano music from different angles. A chief focus has been examining the prelude as a site for musical experimentation. Defined as a short piece of music with a variable, open-ended form, the prelude first appeared in the keyboard compositions of French 17th-century composers like François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau. By the beginning of the 20th century, two masterful sets of preludes by Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy helped to expand and redefine the genre. Fauré’s preludes are among the least known of Fauré’s piano works, marked by dense, contrapuntal textures, long melodic lines, and subtle, mysterious restraint. By contrast, Debussy’s two books of preludes represent the pinnacle of his innovative writing for the piano: with descriptive titles appearing at the end of each piece rather than the beginning, these 24 pieces test the boundaries of the piano’s technical and expressive capabilities. Later in the 20th century, Henri Dutilleux’s Trois Préludes reflect Debussy’s experimental treatment of the genre, exploring extreme contrasts of dynamics and articulation, as well as exploiting the effects of each of the piano’s three pedals. Contrastingly, Guy Sacre’s Vingt-Quatre Préludes follow the Chopin model of shorter studies in all keys, yet nevertheless reflect Sacre’s unique, free treatment of harmony and dissonance. In the spirit of eclectic creative freedom that I feel the prelude represents, I am performing selected preludes by Fauré, Debussy, Dutilleux and Sacre in a different, rearranged format, interspersed with five “interludes” featuring music composed by myself and visual animations/video by students at the Fondation des États-Unis. The second half of the program focuses on French composers’ obsession with the depiction of water in piano music. In 2018, Tristan Murail composed Cailloux dans l’eau as an homage to Debussy: with a formal structure is almost identically based on Debussy’s seminal Reflets dans l’eau of 1905, Murail’s piece is nonetheless distinctly contemporary, reflecting his own harmonic language derived from the analysis of a fundamental tone and its overtones. Next, following the success of Maurice Ravel’s “Ondine,” the first movement of his Gaspard de la nuit, Debussy composed his own version of “Ondine” in his second book of preludes. Ondine refers to the ancient Greek story of a water nymph who lures seafarers into the depths of her underwater kingdom; as such, both Ravel and Debussy create beguilingly beautiful, yet capriciously sinister, depictions of cascading water and the creatures within it.” – Daniel Schreiner

The Program

Hope Curran (n. 1994), Daniel Schreiner (n. 1991)
Interlude 1

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Préludes: No. IV in Fa majeur

Guy Sacre (n. 1948)
Préludes III. Rapide

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Préludes, Premier livre: Les collines d’Anacapri

Daniel Schreiner
Interlude 2

Claude Debussy
Préludes, Deuxième livre: Brouillards

Guy Sacre
Préludes: IX. Lent, recueilli

Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013)
Préludes: II. Sur un même accord

Mallory Mayhew (n. 1993), Daniel Schreiner
Interlude 3

Gabriel Fauré
Préludes: No. V in Ré mineur

Claude Debussy
Préludes, Premier livre: Ce qu’a vu le Vent d’Ouest

Sylvie Mayer (n. 1996), Daniel Schreiner
Interlude 4

Claude Debussy
Préludes, Premier livre: Des pas sur la neige

Guy Sacre
Préludes: X. Lent et triste

Gabriel Fauré
Préludes: No. VII in La majeur  

Rebecca Arthur (n. 1996), Daniel Schreiner
Interlude 5

Henri Dutilleux
Préludes: I. D’ombre et de silence

Claude Debussy
Préludes, Deuxième livre: La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune

Images, Première série: Reflets dans l’eau

Tristan Murail (n. 1947)
Cailloux dans l’eau (2018)

Claude Debussy
Préludes, Deuxième livre: Ondine

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Gaspard de la nuit: Ondine

About the Artists

A musician and interdisciplinary artist of diverse interests, Daniel Schreiner is continuing to fashion an eclectic career marked by experimentation and radical discovery. As a piano soloist and chamber musician, Daniel has performed internationally at the Fondation des États-Unis (Paris), DiMenna Center for Classical Music (New York City), Ferrara Music Festival Concert Series (New York City), New Music on the Point (Vermont), Williams College (Massachusetts), Bard College (New York), Academie Internationale d’Été de Nice, soundSCAPE Festival (Italy), nief-norf Summer Music Festival (Tennessee), and at various small venues in Brooklyn, NY. Daniel has worked with Ensemble Calliopée, the Mannes American Composers Ensemble, Balance Campaign, BlackBox Ensemble, NewMusicMannes, and the Berkshire Symphony, to name a few. Daniel is also a founding member of KnoxTrio, a newly-formed flute, cello, and piano trio dedicated to presenting immersive programs of experimental contemporary repertoire, whose successful first season commissioned three world premieres by living composers responding to the environment and climate change. Originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Daniel received his Bachelor’s degree from Williams College, where he won the 2012 Concerto Competition and received Highest Honors for his performance thesis-recital, which focused on the influence of Claude Debussy. He supplemented his undergraduate education at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria on a semester abroad, studying under Albert Sassmann. In 2017, Daniel received a Master of Music in piano performance from Mannes College of Music in New York City, studying under Dr. Thomas Sauer. His graduation recital, which featured works by J.S. Bach, Schubert, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Tristan Murail, won the Steinway Award for exceptional performance. Having also majored in Studio Art while attending Williams College, Daniel is interested in integrating two-dimensional visual art, sound art, and performance art with the musical realm. His experimental sound art installations have been featured in exhibitions in Sardinia, Italy; Berlin, Germany; and Yonkers, NY. A recipient of the Harriet Hale Woolley Scholarship from the Fondation des États-Unis, Daniel currently lives in Paris, France, studying at La Schola Cantorum with Billy Eidi and performing works by Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen, Murail, and contemporary Paris-based composers. More on Daniel’s YouTube channel.

Hope Curran: “My name is Hope and my life is messy…. I want to learn the language of light, the DNA of heaven held in my heart– trying to find home amongst the many. Hope is defined as the feeling of expectation and the dream for something to happen. My name has inspired a lifelong creative search for joy, beauty, adventure, color, community, and connection. To hope is to not yet have, yet hold close. I’ve been in Paris for three years after graduating from UC Santa Barbara working alongside Transform and Agapé Arts and pursuing a Masters in Art at Pantheon-Sorbonne. A multidisciplinary approach allows me to work on the themes of memory, relational aesthetics and light through photography, poetry, performance and installation. These are my prayers and promises written in ink, portraits of light. Messy like me, full of mistakes and typos, caught in between heaven and home.”

Rebecca Arthur: « I am a Black-American photographer currently living in Paris, France on a joint Fulbright-Harriett Hale Woolley award in the arts. I consider myself a storyteller, using my images to document and share narratives on the themes of family, identity and home. There are many stories that you can’t put into words, and often times they can’t be told at all — they are painful, complex or don’t have the opportunities to be heard; and those are the ones that interest me the most. There is a beautiful affect that occurs when you confront a portrait of someone. You can feel their emotions, see the past in their eyes and sense their power and strength. It is within these affects that you can empathize with the subject and see the story from their perspective. »

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