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DEBUSSY // 12 Études – Le martyre de saint Sébastien

Philippe Bianconi,

Philippe Bianconi offers a lucid, transparent reading, notable for its energy, of these key late works.

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Beyond the formidable technical, even experimental challenge they set, the Études – dedicated to Chopin, whom Debussy revered – are revealed under Bianconi’s fingers in all their poetry, rhythm and colour. The complement to the programme, Debussy’s last two piano pieces, like the suite from Le Martyre de saint Sébastien, show a different facet of his genius, spiritual, austere and poignant.


Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)


12 Études

  • Pour les « cinq doigts » – d’après Monsieur Czerny. Sagement 03’17
  • Pour les tierces. Moderato, ma non troppo 03’38
  • Pour les quartes. Andantino con moto 05’06
  • Pour les sixtes. Lento 04’13
  • Pour les octaves. Joyeux et emporté, librement rythmé 02’54
  • Pour les huit doigts. Vivamente, molto leggiero e legato 01’49
  • Pour les degrés chromatiques. Scherzando, animato assai 02’23
  • Pour les agréments. Lento, rubato e leggiero 05’22
  • Pour les notes répétées. Scherzando 03’28
  • Pour les sonorités opposées. Modéré, sans lenteur 05’25
  • Pour les arpèges composés 04’54
  • Pour les accords. Décidé, rythmé, sans lourdeur 04’54
  • Élégie 02’21

Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien – Suite for piano (transcribed by André Caplet)



  • La Cour des Lys – Prélude 03’59
  • Danse extatique 02’57
  • La Chambre magique 03’10
  • La Passion 04’07
  • Le Laurier blessé 02’18
  • Le bon Pasteur 02’37


  • Les Soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon 02’25

Since his success at the Van Cliburn International Competition in the 1980s, Philippe Bianconi has made an international career, pursuing his musical itinerary and patiently carving out his path far from media hype.

A pupil of Simone Delbert-Février at the Conservatoire in Nice, where he was born, Philippe Bianconi is the only major French pianist to have entered the international competition circuit without previously studying at the Paris Conservatoire. His prizes at the Jeunesses Musicales International Competition in Belgrade, the Robert Casadesus International Competition in Cleveland, and notably the Van Cliburn Competition were his launching pads for a brilliant career in North America. He appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1987, and went on play with many of the leading North American orchestras, including Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Montreal. His career then took on a worldwide dimension and from Berlin to Sydney, Beijing to London, Paris to San Francisco, he has received high praise for the poetry of his playing and the beauty of his tone.

The release of his disc of Debussy’s Préludes on La Dolce Volta was one of the major recording events of the year 2012, winning a deluge of international  distinctions and a nomination at the Victoires de la Musique Classique in the category ‘Recording of the Year’. From 2013 to 2017, Philippe Bianconi was the director of the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau. Founded in 1921 to introduce the best American music students to the French musical tradition of teaching, composing and performing, it has included on its faculty the most prestigious names: Maurice Ravel, Marcel Dupré, Robert, Gaby and Jean Casadesus, Jean Francaix, Henri Dutilleux, Betsy Jolas, Leonard Bernstein… From
the first, Nadia Boulanger devoted her talent, energy, knowledge, and influence to the American Conservatory of which she was Director from 1949 to 1979.

Since October 2018, Philippe Bianconi teaches at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris-Alfred Cortot

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