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Debussy: La Mer / Images / Nocturnes [Original recording remastered]

C. Debussy Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Price: $7.29 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 11 Songs, 2004 $9.99  
Audio CD, Original recording remastered, 2004 $7.29  

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 20, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B0001TSWLO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,125 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. La Mer, symphonic sketches (3) for orchestra, L. 109: Jeux de vagues
2. La Mer, symphonic sketches (3) for orchestra, L. 109: Dialogue du vent et de la mer
3. Nocturnes, for female chorus & orchestra, L. 91: Nuages
4. Images (3), for orchestra, L. 122: Gigues
5. Images (3), for orchestra, L. 122: Rondes de printemps

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Debussy January 25, 2006
Format:Audio CD
I find Charles Munch's interpretations of the music of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) second only to Arturo Toscanini. Both Munch and Toscanini recorded for RCA Victor; of course, Munch's recordings had the advantages of "Living Stereo," RCA's brilliant use of triple-track stereophonic taping. Toscanini did make two stereophonic recordings at the very end of his career; unfortunately, the performances were not up to his usual high standards because he was about to retire and realized that NBC would soon disband its wonderful symphony orchestra.

Munch (1902-1968) conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1949 to 1962, then founded the Orchestra of Paris near the end of his life. While on tour with the Parisian orchestra in the U.S., Munch died suddenly from a heart attack in 1968.

Back in February 1964, however, he guest conducted the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in an all-French program that included Debussy's "La Mer." It was the first time I had heard this wonderful example of impressionistic orchestral music and I was overwhelmed by the intense, very moving performance of Debussy's music. This led me to purchase the RCA Victrola vinyl disc of Munch's 1955 stereo recording of "La Mer." It was every bit as exciting as the live performance I had heard in San Francisco.

Debussy often sat on the ocean shore, observing the waves and the wind; he was deeply moved by the effects he witnessed and sought, in 1905, to give his musical impressions of the ocean, climaxing with a violent storm that produced huge waves. All of the various moods of the ocean are included in the piece. The Boston Symphony recording remains a definitive performance.

Munch was actually Alsatian and quite a tall, imposing figure.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'La Mer' before it grew muscles June 2, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Munch was an undisputed mster at Debussy and conductor of the most renowned "French' orchestra in the world, not excluding France. His BSO was not as virtuosic or precise as it had been under Koussevitzky, and you have to be prepared for that when listening to these remastered Living Stereo recordings. The current style of razor-sharp ensemble was introduced by Boulez in his thrilling Debussy recordings with the Cleveland Orch. in the Sixties, and Karajan's blockbuster 'La Mer' redefined the work as an orchestral showpiece. This is far from being an x-ray of Debussy's orchestration, and the engineering drops some instrumental lines into the background that we are now used to hearing more prominently, especially in the lower brass, cellos, and double basses. Solo woodwinds are very prominent.

Yet I wonder if Munch doesn't come closer to the composer's intentions. He favors delicacy over razor-sharpness and relaxed impressionism over visceral impact. Detractors argue that the BSO plays a bit sloppily, coasting on its laurels--true enough in the Munch era. But the spirit of Debussy seems to breathe in his hands; Munch doesn't force the music into his own inflated conception of it. The major works here--La Mer, Images, and Nocturnes--all emerge with the same unforced scintillating sparkle. Personally, I love the current virtuosic way with these works, but there's a place in my heart for Munch.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Munch Returns May 5, 2004
Format:Audio CD
RCA/BMG is continually playing catch up to the likes of Sony, EMI and Universal when it comes to classical CD series. In my opinion, their latest creation, "Red Seal Classics," is just as uninspired as their earlier "Basic 100" series. Part of this has to do with the fact that many of the performances they have chosen to reissue are just not very appealing, but it mostly has to with pricing and marketing inconsistencies. First, when your competitors' series are all priced at budget-line, don't charge a few dollars more for your product. That's a guaranteed no sale. I mean seriously, which CD do you think a novice classical fan will buy? Second, RCA already has a budget-line, the "Red Seal" Series, so why reinvent the wheel with the "Red Seal Classics" series. When the same artists are featured in both series (see my review of Munch's Dvorak Sym 8/Cello Concerto), then what is the difference between regular and "classic" anyway? I guess there is some larger strategy at work here that I just don't comprehend.

What I do understand is good music, and that it can rescue an otherwise poor product. RCA/BMG is fortunate to be able to call upon the classic vintage stereo recordings of Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra for their reissues. The exact contents featured on this CD -- "La Mer," Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune," "Nuages," "Fetes" and "Iberia" -- were previously issued as Volume 7 in the "Basic 100" series, and the very same "La Mer" performance continues to be available on a "Living Stereo" title coupled with Saint-Saens' 3rd Symphony.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars which Debussy prelude recording? February 12, 2009
Format:Audio CD
the question here relates to the fact that Munch recorded the Debussy Prelude in stereo twice. Once in 1955 or 1956 on an LP that was variously called The Virtuoso Orchestra and then renamed BOLERO when it was reissued in the late 1950s as a Stereo LP. He recorded it again in 1961-62 for an all-Debussy album that also included the Nuage, Fetes and Printemps. Every time BMG has reissued a Munch-led Prelude on CD, the recording date of the performance has not been specifically identified (that I can find). So which one is on this cd? Perhaps someone who has the CD can check the inside contents rather than just the back cover hich doesnt indicate recording dates for each performance. When BMG reissued the Ravel recordings from the Bolero LP in the Living Stereo series, both the regular CD AND the SACD, they left off the 1955 Debussy Prelude that would have provided the complete LP contents. The also didnt include it on the "French touch" CD even though that CD could have easily accommodated it.
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