Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy: Ravel: Debussy la Mer Ravel Bolero

Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy: Ravel: Debussy la Mer Ravel Bolero

Article excerpt

Debussy * Ravel

Debussy La mer Ravel Bolero. Daphnis et Chloe--Lever du jour. Pavane pour une infante defunte. La valse. Vaises nobles et sentimentales--No 2; No 3 (all arr Idenstam) Gunnar Idenstam org BIS [F] [SACD] BIS2049 (74' * DDD/DSD) Played on the Stahlhuth/Jann organ of Eglise Saint-Martin de Dudelange, Luxembourg

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The Swedish virtuoso Gunnar Idenstam tells us that he has toyed with the idea of arranging Debussy's La mer for organ ever since his student days. Having tried out various passages over the years, 'each time I have returned the [score and piano reduction] to the cupboard thinking it just can't be done'. Idenstam's doubts were understandable and, sadly, justified; for while one can only applaud the ingenuity of his transcription and the extraordinary technique needed to play it, I think La mer is one of those works that do not transfer to another medium. The Stahlhuth/Jann organ of the Eglise Saint-Martin de Dudelange, Luxembourg, is a powerful symphonic instrument supplying all the orchestral colours you could wish for (it has particularly lovely flutes, solo clarinet and punchy reed chorus) but the harp (especially in 'Jeux de vagues'), percussion and string pizzicato are such important elements of Debussy's palette that the organ simply cannot reproduce their role to comparable effect. …

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