Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pierre Boulez — Boulez Conducts Debussy


   Claude Debussy was gifted artist and complex person, he was brilliant, creative, and innovatory composer and man disobedient to common rules. In effect he lived in complicated social relations what had caused many controversies. More far was his life from bourgeois life style, the greater honors and appreciation surrounded him. His long time friend, composer Ernest Chausson protested against Debussy’s libertarian habits and finally terminated friendship. Few years later in 1903 Debussy was made Chevalier of National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration of Republique Francaise. His creative output in last years of his life has decreased because of his illness (cancer diagnose in 1909). He remains one of most significant composers of modernity, leading figure of musical impressionism (he was rejecting such designation with impatience), one of greatest composers in the history of French symphonic music.
   Pierre Boulez in his note to Debussy symphonic album points La Mer is Debussy’s most popular and most accomplished symphonic work. The suite of three sketches La Mer could be considered as the definition of impressionistic style in symphonic music. Since the work is masterpiece of subtle suggestions, it is not quite programme music. It's just like transcription of the sea into formal musical language. There is no story, even no pictures, just unclear clues, catchy emotions, some onomatopoeic hints, and continuance understood as idea of the ocean. This music builds discreet play of senses more than the pictures, but it is also a formal three-part construction with scherzo-like middle part Jeux de vagues, with more dramatic first and third movements. Circulation of motifs gives this work cohesion and once more feeling of continuity.

Pierre Boulez — Boulez Conducts Debussy (1967)

   Two symphonic pieces by Debussy included on second side of the album are connected by the fact both were ballet music for Vaclav Nijinsky. Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) a symphonic poem from 1894 inspired by the poem of French poet Stéphane Mallarmé was choreographed and performed by Nijinsky in 1912 as L'après-midi d'un faune. This is one of most popular works of this era. The last position in the program is Jeux, the ballet music commissioned by Diaghilev in 1912. Precision of performance, colorful orchestral sound, clear vision of works are features makes this recording a reference for many future artists.
   The album was recorded in London Barking Town Hall in 1966 and published by European division of CBS. The history of this edition shows quality and importance of rendition by Pierre Boulez. First recordings were released by European CBS divisions, in 1966 in Germany (92 786), in 1967 in UK (72533), in 1968 in France (S 75 533), than in US (CBS 32 11 0056). The album was highly praised by critics and awarded with Deutscher Schallplattenpreis. The next year album was issued by Columbia Masterworks (MS 7361), and many times later it was republished in various Columbia and CBS series, also in license editions all over the world. After just few months the recording became classic in different license pressings and masterworks series. Later it was also transferred to CD and published by CBS Masterworks in 1987. Five star performance as it is the base for Boulez high position as interpreter.

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