Saturday, 23 June 2012

Claude Debussy's La Mer

The great pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997) wrote:

"For me, Roger Désormière's recording of Debussy's La mer -- a piece that I rank alongside the St Matthew Passion and Wagner's Ring as one of my favourite works -- is the most beautiful in the whole history of the gramophone.
Shall I ever tire of listening to it, of contemplating it and breathing its atmosphere? And each time is like the first time! An enigma, a miracle of natural reproduction; no, even more than that, sheer magic!
The mere fact that technology has managed to capture this degree of inspiration is in itself a miracle! I don't know a finer recording. As for the interpretation, there's nothing one can say. It's unique."

Debussy, when writing "La mer", was inspired by Hokusai's famous engraving "The Great Wave at Kanagawa", ca. 1830. He asked his publisher Durand to reproduce it on the cover of the printed score.

Francois Gillet, the first oboist of the Lamoureux Orchestra that gave the first performance of La mer in 1905, recalls that during one of the rehearsals Debussy said to the conductor Camille Chevillard: "A little faster here!"
Chevillard said: "Mon cher ami, yesterday you gave me the tempo we have just played."
Debussy looked at him with intense reflection in the eyes and said: "But I don't feel music the same way every day".....

Roger Désormière (1898-1963)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded in 1950

1 comment:

  1. beautiful playing indeed! I wonder in the end what tempo Francois Gillet took on the first performance... :-D