Remember: Support Your Thesis with Evidence

At least that’s what my sixth-grade English teacher told me.

Piano music written by Frederick Chopin and Claude Debussy is more alike than some people may think, and Stephen Manes’ program Tuesday night did a lot to prove that.

And since I am taking several minutes out of my busy, music-hating life to write about this, you already know—being smart Detritusites—that our author will merely prove that there was a concert and it featured Chopin and Debussy, and that, by the end, we will be miles from where we started.

But it began so well. I had such high hopes.

The works heard seemed tailor-made to highlight the similarities between the two composers.

The obvious question (and logical continuation), then, is how?

Manes constructed seamless little suites from the first four of Chopin’s opus 28 Preludes, two excerpts from Debussy’s First Book of Preludes (“La Cathedral engloutie” and “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest”) and, in the second half of the concert, Debussy’s three “Estampes.”

Oh, right. The similarities highlighted the tailor-made suite-like constructions that the composers...

Wait. What?

The blending of both composers’ preludes was especially interesting in how they meshed together, perfectly logical in hindsight if not foresight.

This is an example of what counterpoint students refer to as oblique motion.

It would appear, however, that Manes has more of a kinship with the constantly shifting soundscape provided by Debussy.

In other news: the lead in was merely an object to be inverted, played backwards, then fragmented, never to return in its original form.

But still, it would be nice to have some specifics to back up what you say, even if it has nothing to do with the original thread.

While his Chopin interpretations in the first half were more than acceptable, they seemed to be harder-edged, an approach that lessened the vulnerabilities of the Preludes although the playing in Chopin’s “Berceuse” and “Barcarolle” later in the set were fine enough.

Well, folks, that explains it—a harder-edged approach proves that the pianist has more of a kinship with Debussy’s shifting soundscapes.

And without any sarcasm, that’s as specific as it gets. It even degenerates to this:

Manes’ take on “Clair de Lune” was magical [...]

Any evidence to support your claim?

Yeah. No.

But then again, magic is magical. So...

I'm lost.

As the final notes of “L’isle joyeuse” rolled out into the hall, the audience erupted into a well deserved standing ovation.

Oh no! Now a poor little hyphen seems to have been lost. Has anyone seen it?


And finally, a joke:

Manes then took two encores...

I'll bite. Where did he take them?

...playing a pair of Chopin scores, an F minor mazurka and the “Revolutionary Etude” (op. 10, no. 12).

That was a lousy punchline.

But at least there was an opus number. Hooray! The author took a fact.


Gustav said...

This is such a commonplace problem (a statement not supported by any argument) that I'm beginning to believe that they teach it in journalism class. Editorials 101: Just say something that sounds analytical and leave it at that. Evidence is for losers. I think they also teach that in political science as well.

And magic is indeed magical.