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Claude Debussy, La Mer, Preludes for Piano orch. Colin Matthews


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Product details

  • Performer: Sir Mark Elder conductor
  • Orchestra: Hallé
  • Conductor: Sir Mark Elder
  • Composer: Claude Debussy, Colin Matthews
  • Audio CD (5 Feb 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hallé
  • ASIN: B000MDH6JS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,045 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. La Mer, trois esquisses symphonique
2. Brouillards (Book II, No.1)
3. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest (Book I, 7)
4. Minstrels (Book I, 12)
5. Canope (Book II, 10)
6. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Book I, 4)
7. La Puerta del Vino (Book II, 3)
8. Général Lavine, excentric (Book II, 6)
9. Feuilles mortes (Book II, 2)
10. Les tierces alternées (Book II, 11)
11. La danse de Puck (Book I, 11)
12. Le vent dans la plaine (Book I, 3)
13. La fille aux cheveux de lin (Book I, 8)

Product Description

BBC Review

At first glance this is all about La Mer!Debussy's sea symphony, the main draw, and given top billing over orchestrations of a dozen of the composer's piano Preludes. So let's approach it that way, because immediately a British orchestra based in Manchester is going to have problems getting itself taken seriously in La Mer alongside classic accounts from Berlin and Boston, Amsterdam or Chicago.

But let's not forget that Debussy's inspiration was not the mighty Pacific or balmy Mediterranean, but the English Channel outside his hotel in Eastbourne - so if Mark Elder and his Hall� musicians seem a degree-or-two cooler than some of the competition, if the depths are darker, and if the morning sun takes a while to break through the overcast sky, then perhaps that's utterly authentic. But it's also further evidence of the Hall�'s renewal under Elder: a performance that glitters with luminous detail, and some really refined playing!slightly let down by the ragged final chord. So, a La Mer to be proud of, but if your experience mirrors mine, it's what follows that will make you glad you put your hand in your pocket for this recording.

The Hall� asked composer Colin Matthews to furnish them with orchestral versions of Debussy's 24 piano Preludes, and the task was completed in 2006. There are 12 here, the remaining dozen are to be released later, and the selection jumps between Book 1 and Book 2 in a way that works perfectly well, but I can't tell you whether this is the arranger's order or the conductor's. It's bold indeed to allow your orchestrations to be measured against Debussy's great seascape; yet what a success has been achieved here. It might have been Colin Matthews the arranger dressing the piano parts in orchestral clothes borrowed from Debussy, as he does in Canopes, but elsewhere Matthews the composer makes his mark as well. He's perfectly prepared to embellish the original, extending the melody of Brouillards, or elevating what are mere accompanying figures in the piano pieces to the status of counter-melodies or secondary themes, and then fashioning an additional transitional passage for Le vent dans la plaine.

One of the most striking interventions is one of the simplest; in La fille aux cheveux de lin Matthews sets a considerably slower tempo than Debussy does in his piano Prelude, turning it into a reflection on the original!almost as though the girl with the flaxen hair has grown up, and is gazing at a photo of her former self, the source of what she's become. And let's not forget Debussy's Minstrels: buskers seen by Debussy in the streets of Eastbourne while he was writing La Mer in 1905. Matthews provides a completely re-imagined context for the Preludes, and they're beautifully played in a recording that allows every new texture to radiate colour and detail.

So the headline may be La Mer, and a fine account it is too, but it's the editorial to which I'll be returning in this publication: Matthews' thoughts on Debussy's Preludes. Let's hope it won't be long before we can hear the second half of the series. --Andrew McGregor

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By liza-mae on 7 Aug 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
excellent delivery from a second hand Amazon seller. The CD it's self is stunning the sound is amazing so crisp & clear my partner just loved it & has been back to it twice now with plans to go on his MP3 player (high praise indeed!)
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alan J. Stedall VINE VOICE on 24 July 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is undoubtedly the favourite my collection. A true gem.

Clearly Debussy was a musical genius and an iconoclast of his time. This recording does him full justice. Adjectives that I would use to describe the performance of "La Mer" on this recording would be: subtle, powerful, delicate, majestic, evolving, intriguing.

Each of the fifteen Preludes arranged by Colin Mathews is a jewel in itself; each different in its own colour and feel, but all compelling in their own particular way.

One of my favourites is "Canope", the weaving melody of which evokes the mystery of ancient Egypt.

In "Les sons et les parfums tournent dans L'air du soir"; the arrangement is heady with the perfume from the succulent blooms at Debussy's elbow, hanging sensual and heavy in the evening air. The end of this piece, trailing off into time and distance, is enchanting.

Possibly my favourite piece is "La fille aux cheveux de lin", which seems to shimmer and waver in aching nostalgia of the remembrance of a lost love.

I have listened to this CD repeatedly and never grow tired of it. On the contrary, on each occasion I detect a new subtlety, a new thrill. I have bought no less than four copies of the CD for friends. Their expression of enjoyment mirrors my own.

Highly recommended. A musical poem of the first order.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A wonderful recording of some great music.
Claude was always good at describing with music what he wanted to say.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Nadim Bakhshov VINE VOICE on 19 May 2009
Format: Audio CD
Whatever else Debussy is up to in his music on this CD Colin Matthews seems to have brought out a layer of subtlety and nuance that approaches the mystical and transcendent. Listening to "Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir" on the way to work was extraordinary, truly stunning.

Colin Matthews seems to have teased out the heart of the music. I would recommend buying Steven Osborne's CD Debussy: Preludes and then swapping them on your Cd player. Contrast the subtle orchestration against the piano original. This will surely deepen your grasp of this rich textural music.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ROBERT Timms on 18 April 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Not a classical listening and bought the orchestral version based on the written hype.Wanted the piano original really Anyone recommend a better version?
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