Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Trio for flute, viola and harp

Debussy wrote this sonata in 1915 at a time when he was suffering from terminal cancer and while France was still locked in a devastating war with Germany. The piece was intended to be the second in a set of six, but he died before the final four could be completed.The first movement is pastoral, the second a dance, and the third energetic, marked “allegro moderato, but with resolve”. In a letter to Igor Stravinsky about the project, Debussy said, “I have been writing nothing but pure music in our old form, which graciously does not impose [Wagnerian] ring-cycle efforts upon the auditory faculty.” In reflecting on the finished product, he said, “I can’t say whether one should laugh or cry, maybe both.”