Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy: La Mer

Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy: La Mer

Article excerpt

Debussy

La mer. Images

French National Orchestra / Emmanuel Krivine

Erato (F) 9029 56870-4 (61' * DDD)

Emmanuel Krivine's new La mer with the Orchestre National de France focuses on the much-discussed question of Debussy's decision, on revising the score in 1909, to delete from the 1905 original a series of brass fanfares in the closing pages (eight bars before fig 60) of the final 'Dialogue du vent et de la mer'. Given Debussy's compositional fastidiousness, one might have thought the revision should be considered definitive, though numerous conductors have deemed the change to be mistaken and reinstated the brass, with the result that it is now a matter of interpretative choice as to whether tn include the fanfares or not.

Krivine allows us to make up our own minds by giving us both endings, using the 1909 score for his complete performance and adding the last two minutes or so of the 1905 version as an appendix. In the latter, he emphasises the difference by letting the fanfares glare a bit, where some interpreters rein the brass in. The equivalent passage in 1909 can sometimes hang fire, though Krivine has generated such tremendous tension by this point that you don't notice any weakening of impact. Whatever the merits of this, there is, I think, a flaw in that the disc's organisation doesn't allow us to hear 'Dialogue' in its entirety in both versions: a tracking system allowing us to programme a choice of alternatives, as with Ivan Fischer's recording of Liszt's Faust Symphony (Philips, 4/98), would have been preferable. …

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