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Created in 2012 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy, Rêverie is the fourth biographical programme of composers’ words and music to be compiled and scripted by pianist Lucy Parham. A crucial element of Debussy’s complex intellectual and emotional world was an entangled love life that brought illicit trysts in Jersey, a brush with a revolver and even a suicide attempt.
One of the most prolific and innovative composers of the early 20th century, Claude Debussy absorbed and transformed cultural influences from countries as far apart as Scotland (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair), Japan (Poissons d’Or) and the USA (Golliwogg’s Cake Walk).
The narrative of Rêverie, which takes the form of a personal journal, follows him from his initial success with the Prix de Rome in 1885 to his untimely death in 1918. It is punctuated with solo piano works ranging from the ever-popular lyricism of Clair de Lune, Reverie and The Girl with the Flaxen Hair to such virtuosic showpieces as Jardins sous la Pluie, the Etudes and L’Isle Joyeuse.
Rêverie debuted in Sheffield with Dominic West in 2012 and then received its critically acclaimed London debut in the Wigmore Hall’s London Piano Series with Henry Goodman.
Recent and future performances include the Barbican, Barbican Centre Milton Court, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, St John’s Smith Square, Kings Place, Almeida Theatre, Theatre Royal Brighton, Richmond Theatre, Chipping Campden Festival, Ryedale Festival, Brunton Theatre Edinburgh, Macynlleth Festival, Amigos Series Portugal, Stratford upon Avon Festival, Salisbury Playhouse,Worcester Theatre, St. George’s Bristol, Harrogate International Festival, Hertford Theatre, Middle Temple Hall, Petworth Festival, Cambridge International Festival, The Apex Bury St. Edmunds, Canterbury Festival, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and the City of London Guildhall.
Actors include Simon Russell Beale, Dominic West, Henry Goodman, Alex Jennings, Michael Maloney, Samuel West, Robert Glenister, Tim McInnerny, Roger Allam and Simon Callow.
“There is nothing more satisfying than listening to great music, beautifully performed, while, at the same time, learning a little about the world in which it came into being and about the people who created it.
Lucy Parham’s concerts offer just that – a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.”
“Performing in Lucy’s shows is very special, and sharing the stage with a brilliant concert pianist is a pleasure and a privilege. Each one is much more than just reading a selection of letters and diary entries, as Lucy’s plays (that is how I think of them) require complete immersion in the character. The music and the words carry both actor and audience on a great journey. What she has created is remarkable. I always look forward to the next opportunity.”
“These wonderful concerts are so cleverly organic because the composers become alive again. This happens before your eyes and it transforms the musical experience for the audience.
The composers speak directly, frankly and intimately about the secrets of the lives shared and, coupled with the superb playing of Lucy Parham, their music is transformed”
“I love performing Lucy’s shows because the narrative and the music inform each other, and therefore make each individual composer more accessible to an audience, especially those (like myself!) who are maybe not as familiar with classical music as others”
“I love doing shows with Lucy. I read the fascinating lives and letters of great composers and then get to hear their music, played on a beautiful piano by a truly miraculous performer”
“Winningly compiled and performed, Parham’s drama places the French composer’s music in fascinating context. Jennings narrates with wit and authority” ****
“The music in Parham’s programme was chosen to reflect the mood of the letters, and this it did with great success. Henry Goodman is a brilliant character actor, and here he gave us a gallery of characters… he cast a bleak spell as the loneliness of fame and the bitterness of illness kicked in. Meanwhile, Parham’s playing superbly covered the musical bases, from the lazy opulence of ‘Soirée dans Grenade’ to the glacial chill of ‘Des pas sur la neige’, from the tintinnabulation of ‘Pagodes’ to the chaste beauty of ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’.” ****