Last night I had the pleasure of attending a beautiful piano performance at the French Cultural Center in Boston. The star of the night was a wonderfully talented French pianist, Yves Henry, who is the director of the Nohant Festival in France and a professor at the National Conservatory in Paris. He played a variety of pieces by both Chopin and Debussy, showcasing how both composers bring color to life through their music, which is an interesting concept and not one that I had deeply pondered before the performance. When I play a piece on the piano, I often think of the emotion or experience that the composer is trying to portray, which helps me to interpret the music, but don’t necessarily think of the colors within the piece.
Yves Henry not only depicted how both Chopin and Debussy expressed colors in their music, but also how deeply influenced Debussy was by Chopin's music. Professor Henry took the time to explain the direct influence of certain Chopin pieces, such as the Prelude No. 4 on Debussy’s work— in this case, the prelude Des pas sur la neige. He found quite a few pieces where the tonality and melodies were quite similar, yet encompassed the distinct style of each composer. It was a fabulous evening of stunning and colorful music which deepened my appreciation of both composers’ incredible talent and for overseas travel, as having a musician of Yves Henry’s caliber in Boston was such a treat!