Tempo variation in the interpretation of Claude Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
This creative project analyzed seven recordings of Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l'aprèsmidi d'un faune for their tempo interpretations and offered possible reasons for vastly different tempo interpretations. Analysis of the recordings shows a wide range in performance length, spanning from as short as eight and a half minutes to as long as eleven minutes. Tempi were clocked for their metronome markings and compared to Debussy’s printed tempo markings, of which none provide specific metronome markings; relationships between tempi were analyzed for their resemblance to Debussy’s notations. Relationships between the analyzed recordings were also discussed, as three pairs of recordings share identical performance lengths. Possible reasons for varying tempo interpretations discussed include a relationship to French symbolist poetry and its unusual structure and cadence.