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Robert Orledge:Un Jour Affreux avec le Diable dans le beffroi for piano and narrator, based on themes from Debussy's "Le Diable dans le beffoir"

Digital Sheet Music

By Claude Debussy/Robert Orledge

Piano Solo, Narrator - Advanced - Digital Download
Composed by Claude Debussy/Robert Orledge. 20th Century, Impressionistic, Recital, Spoken Word. Score. 30 pages. Published by Musik Fabrik Music Publishing (S0.784431).

Item Number: S0.784431

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the celebrated pianist Nicolas Horvath for enthusiastically
 bringing my Debussy works to public attention in their solo piano formats, both through his recent
 recitals across France and through this Naxos Grand Piano release (GP822). In some cases these are
 true piano pieces (like Toomai des éléphants), in others they are piano reductions of orchestral scores
(like Fêtes galantes), while in others they are piano solos in their own right that also exist in orchestral
versions (as in the incidental music for Le Roi Lear). Needless to say, most of these tracks are world
première recordings, and this is certainly true of A Night in the House of Usher and its companion piece Un Jour affreux avec Le Diable dans le beffroi (‘A Dreadful Day with the Devil in the Belfry’) which I arranged specially for Nicolas in November 2018 as a virtuosic, almost Lisztian paraphrase-fantasy. To remind us of the plot as the dramatic scenes unfold, Un Jour affreux avec le Diable dans le beffroi, like the start of No-ja-li) has a narrator (spoken in French by Florient Azoulay on the Grand Piano recording):

    [After an overture rising from the underworld, with a polka and a citation of a chldren‘s folksong Savez vous plantez les choux?, a carillon rings out]: Hearing it, the Dutch villagers start to count, with the bells of the belfry / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 8, 9, 11, and 12 / Perfect! / 13!?!/ The bell rang 13 times / 13! / The Devil is here where the clock should be! / Damn! / The bells are cracked. / The Devil laughs fit to burst / He pulls from the pocket of his coat, a small dancing master’s violin / ‘My God!’ says the devil – and he tunes his violin slowly / The Devil leads the villagers in a fantastic and relentless jig [making jokes at the expense of concertos by Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky] / The Devil directs the villagers towards the canal – where he jumps to the other side, laughing all the time / The villagers try to imitate him, but they fall into the water. / [In Part 2] the villagers are transported to a hedonistic and lively Italian village. They are similarly transformed: the men have crooked hats – the women have wide open bodices! They dance a mad Tarantella / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 13 / shouting ‘Hey there! (Hola’) / Jean, the young hero, makes a fervent prayer to God against the Devil / The prayer is answered and the bell again rings normally! / The expression of the Devil changes: he shudders! / Everything goes black / The devil disappears in a brief red glow … / And the carillon and the bells chime as usual / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 / Perfect! / But the Devil’s grinning face ap-
pears once again where the clock should be – briefly

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  • Ratings + Reviews

  • 5

    Berkshires, MA
    Difficulty Level:
  • January 10, 2021 Orledge Channels Debussy

    Debussy sketched two operas based on Poe. Initially promised to the Opera-Comique and later redirected to the Metropolitan Opera, La Chute de La Maison Usher has enough surviving material to make a convincing stage work, but the comedic Le Diable Dans Le Beffroi is really just a handful of...

    sketches. Orledge created a version suitable for staging, which is much more Orledge than Debussy, but is still quite entertaining. Earlier, he had arranged the piano sketches, with nods to some other composers, in an equally entertaining manner. A narrator clarifies the plot points, and also counts out the thirteen strokes of the bell tower clock. The piano part is difficult. The whole is very enjoyable !

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