Summer heat – Debussy’s Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un Faune

by Ben Hogwood Picture – Impression: Sunrise by Claude Monet

As our UK-based readers will know, England is bracing itself for what could be the hottest week on record. With that in mind, I began thinking of musical evocation of hot weather, and each time I kept on coming back to Debussy‘s influential masterpiece of 1894, the Prelude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

Few orchestral works create such an immediate heat haze, but with one deceptively languid flute solo Debussy set the scene, against a cushion of sunbathed strings and soporific, enchanting woodwind.

I remember playing this piece as an orchestral cellist and falling under the spell of the music, with its rich harmonies and persuasive melodies. Debussy’s mature style was established here – revealing an uncommon ability to tug at the senses and lull the brain at his command. Bask in the sunshine and enjoy!

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