This piece was first written as incidental music for an uncompleted play and was originally called Flûte de Pan. However, one of Debussy’s other works already had that title so he renamed it Syrinx.
In Greek mythology, Syrinx was a young and chaste nymph. She was pursued by the amorous Pan, so ran to the edge of a river and asked for help from the river nymphs. They transformed her into hollow water reeds. When Pan breathed on the reeds they made a beautiful, haunting sound. So Pan cut the reeds to make the first pipes that take his name, not realising that he was killing his beloved.
Syrinx has become a popular work in the solo flute repertoire. It is believed that Debussy wrote the rhythmically free piece without bar-lines or breath marks.
Recorded at a Wellington Chamber Music Trust concert, 16 September 2018 at St. Andrew's on The Terrace, Wellington by RNZ Concert
Producer: David McCaw
Engineer: Darryl Stack