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Violinist Alexis Galperine and pianist Jean-Louis Haguenauer present "An Evening in Paris."

The Sounds of France


French classical music of the late 19th century immediately strikes us as singular. It is evocative, luxuriant, and audibly tied to the circumstance of its production — the social and intellectual rule-breaking of that era. French music is both apparently and actually sensual, and the listener immediately recognizes that the music is concerned with something quite different from usual classical fare. On April 22, violinist Alexis Galperine and pianist Jean-Louis Haguenauer will present "An Evening in Paris," a concert at the Jewish Community Center composed entirely of French music.

French music has followed a distinctive, particular path ever since the National Society for French Music was created in 1871 to champion a national style of French music and to support the efforts of French composers. The most influential composer to emerge from this French musical revival was Claude Debussy. Debussy, who has been called the greatest French composer who ever lived, became one of the greatest forces of innovation in the history of music. His "L'Apres-midi d'un faune" of 1894 is still considered revolutionary, blasting away 19-century musical rhetoric to clear a space for a new, 20th-century musical aesthetic.

Debussy drew material and inspiration from a variety of musical and artistic traditions, employing elements of primitive, Oriental, ancient and medieval music.

From a young age, Debussy regarded rules skeptically, famously telling a disgruntled teacher that the only rules he followed were "my pleasure." This early bravado predicted how he would compose music for the rest of his life, questioning tonality, ignoring the usual rules of chord resolutions, dissecting, discarding and reworking classical form when he felt impelled to do so.

Haguenauer and Galperine will perform Debussy's Sonata in G minor for Violin and Piano, composed in 1917, a year before the composer's death. The duo will also present works by Francis Poulenc, Guillaume Lekeu and Darius Milhaud. These two performers are, perhaps, innately qualified to interpret these works. Haguenauer, professor of piano at the Strasbourg National Conservatory, is completing a record cycle of Debussy's complete keyboards works. Haguenauer studied with the vastly influential teacher Nadia Boulanger, who herself was a student of Gabriel Faure, co-founder of the National Society for French Music.

Galperine graduated from the Paris Conservatory, garnered prestigious prizes, including the Paganini International Competition, and is professor of violin at the Strasbourg National Conservatory. Two such musicians, immersed as they are in French performance practices, should bring a rich, authentic interpretation to these

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