L'Orchestra De La Suisse Romande - La Mer/Nocturnes

L'Orchestra De La Suisse Romande - La Mer/Nocturnes

Catalogue Code: 782132

Barcode: 5050457821326

Release Date: 22 Aug 2011

Both La Mer and Nocturnes illustrate the type of music which is known as Impressionism. This term, borrowed from painting, applies to a piece of music whose sensuous sounds give an impression of something without in any way clearly depicting it. Thus Debussy's La Mer is not a sea-picture even in the sense that Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave Overture is; it is an emotional tone-picture, the subtle intensity of which requires a sympathetic approach from the listener. It is impossible, of course, for any music to make direct suggestions of a physical object or state to a listener; all "programme" music demands prior knowledge of the subject, although if it is good programme music it will be capable at any time of stading on its own feet qua music. La Mer, therefore, should not be approached from an intellectual standpoint; the listener should relax, and allow Debussy's delicate tone figurations to create an impression in his mind. Constant Lambert brilliantly described the work (in his book Music Ho!) as "a seascape without figures". That description sums up exactly the spirit of this superb work of imagination. It is a picture of the sea without ships, without human beings. It is an impression of the emotions that one might feel when gazing, without distraction, at the open sea; in three contrasted movements Debussy conveys in terms of music an inforgettable portrait of the sea in its various aspects. The word Nocturne has come in music to mean many things, particularly the piano pieces of Chopin. Debussy, however, did not visualise in his Nocturnes the romantic and lyrical night picture of Chopin. Written for orchestra and in the last one for a female chorus as well, they employ Debussy's expressionist technique. Nuages, as the word implies, is cloudy and shadowy, and the movement does not evoke any romantic or pictorial images. Fêtes is a brilliant tour de force whose intention is much more pointed. Debussy may have visualised this in terms of "the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light" and the middle section as "a dazzling, fantastic vision". One may be forgiven for seeing it in the light of something much more earthy. The music seems to suggest a festival, with a procession moving to a climax. Sirènes is self-explanatory. The picture of the sea is impressionistic, but the sirens are tangible. Here Debussy shows his marvellous ingenuity and sensitivity which, in combination, contrive to present a scene of beautiful proportions and colour. The music is alive; the waves sparkle and splash against the rocks in the starlight. This is pure musical poetry.

1. La Mer, 1st Movement: De L'aube A Midi Sur La Mer
2. La Mer, 2nd Movement: Jeux De Vagues
3. La Mer, 3rd Movement: Dialogue Du Vent Et De La Mer
4. Nocturnes, No.1 Nuages
5. Nocturnes, No.2 Fetes
6. Nocturnes, No.3 Sirenes