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Debussy: Suite Bergamasque (Cho Seong-Jin, Bavouzet)

The Suite Bergamasque was published in 1905, but completed in 1890. It hence represents something of a callback to Debussy’s early style: it’s not as intensely evocative as Estampes or Images (the latter of which came out in 1905, too), as abstractly imagistic as the Preludes, or as pungent as the late Etudes. Nonetheless, this suite is a really beautiful bit of work: Debussy revised it before publication (though we don’t actually know what he changed), and there are lots of his trademarks in evidence here: modal playfulness (especially in the Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Dorian), unprepared coloristic modulation, and the use of extended chords (the suite opens with an F 13th) – all paired with early Debussy’s Chopin-like gift for melody and attractive figuration. There are also rather Romantic flashes of open emotion at points (such as the 30 seconds or so after 7:55), which are practically nonexistent in Debussy’s later piano works.

It would be a little silly to spend too much time discussing the structure of this suite, but there’s a little motif that recurs in the first three pieces, which consists of a kind of interrupted descent (often in thirds) from F to D (or Db). You hear it at 0:30, 4:40, the opening of Clair de Lune, and 9:54. Otherwise, the suite actually follows the Baroque model quite closely: a discursive prelude, a Menuet (which here is more playful than its Baroque counterpart), a lyrical meditation, and then a lively closing dance (a faster-than-usual Passepied).

Two magical recordings. Cho Seong-Jin and Bavouzet are two of the finest Debussy interpreters living: they’re some of the few pianists who can (or who bother to) differentiate between piano, pianissimo, and piano-pianissimo. Cho is supple, hyper-fine, translucent. As his recording of the Chopin Ballades shows, he is one of those extremely rare pianists who excels in playing quietly, and all his strengths are on full display here: lots of well-judged rubato, lovely variation in chord voicing, melting legatos – this is Debussy playing at its most sensuous and haunting. Bavouzet’s approach is quite different: it is more big-hearted and less reticent, less sunset and more afternoon sun, playful, elusive, even humorous at points. An especially attractive feature of Bavouzet’s playing is his extremely fine use of the pedal – he manages to sustain low notes over passages that have no pedal indicated, while retaining the brightness and clarity of the upper voices.

Cho Seong-Jin:
00:00 – Prélude: Moderato (tempo rubato)
04:31 – Menuet: Andantino
08:44 – Clair de Lune: Andante très expressif
14:15 – Passepied: Allegretto ma non troppo

18:07 – Prélude: Moderato (tempo rubato)
21:48 – Menuet: Andantino
25:49 – Clair de Lune: Andante très expressif
30:35 – Passepied: Allegretto ma non troppo

Random YouTube Video Generator

 This site provides links to random videos hosted at YouTube, with the emphasis on random.

 The original idea for this site actually stemmed from another idea to provide a way of benchmarking the popularity of a video against the general population of YouTube videos. There are probably sites that do this by now, but there wasn’t when we started out. Anyway, in order to figure out how popular any one video is, you need a pretty large sample of videos to rank it against. The challenge is that the sample needs to be very random in order to properly rank a video and YouTube doesn’t appear to provide a way to obtain large numbers of random video IDs.

 Even if you search on YouTube for a random string, the set of results that will be returned will still be based on popularity, so if you’re using this approach to build up your sample, you’re already in trouble. It turns out there is a multitude of ways in which the YouTube search function makes it very difficult to retrieve truly random results.

 So how can we provide truly random links to YouTube videos? It turns out that the YouTube programming interface (API) provides additional functions that allow the discovery of videos which, with the right approach, are much more random. Using a number of tricks, combined some subtle manipulation of the space-time fabric, we have managed to create a process that yields something very close to 100% random links to YouTube videos.

 YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to playlists, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially inappropriate are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.

 YouTube and selected creators earn advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program which targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, subscription services respectively offering premium and ad-free music streaming, and ad-free access to all content, including exclusive content commissioned from notable personalities. As of February 2017, there were more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day. As of August 2018, the website is ranked as the second-most popular site in the world, according to Alexa Internet, just behind Google. As of May 2019, more than 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

 YouTube has faced criticism over aspects of its operations, including its handling of copyrighted content contained within uploaded videos, its recommendation algorithms perpetuating videos that promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods, hosting videos ostensibly targeting children but containing violent and/or sexually suggestive content involving popular characters, videos of minors attracting pedophilic activities in their comment sections, and fluctuating policies on the types of content that is eligible to be monetized with advertising.

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