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"I am more and more convinced that music is not, in essence, a thing which can be cast into a traditional fixed form," observed Claude Debussy, adding, "it is made up of colors and rhythms." Although the composer disliked the label of Impressionism, his works shared many characteristics with those of his artistic contemporaries. Debussy developed a unique musical language, redefined concepts of harmony and form, and exercised a delicate command of nuance, in his piano music as well as his orchestral creations.
Imagery was such a vital component of Debussy's approach that he titled several of his works "Images," including this magnificent orchestral triptych. Written over a period extending from 1905 to 1912, these loosely related movements express the national characters of England, Spain, and France. The biggest, Ibéria, is itself a triptycha medley of Spanish allusions, scored with castanets, flashing tambourines, and bells. It is accompanied by Gigues, a moody tribute to England, and Rondes de printemps, a lively celebration of spring in the French countryside.