Debussy: La mer; Jeux

Debussy: La mer; Jeux

by Valery Gergiev

SACD(Super Audio CD - SACD Hybrid)

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Debussy: La mer; Jeux

Even the best musicians have less-than-stellar moments, and this album is one such example. The brilliant Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra do not manage to achieve their full potential on this album of Debussy favorites. One source of the problem is the recording quality, which is merely acceptable. The flute solo at the beginning of "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" is barely audible, and it is only when the instruments are layered over each other that one can adequately begin to hear the music. Gergiev gets the strings to sing and maintains the sense of lightness that is necessary to the piece. The violin solo is brief but lovely. The flute, so central to the work, is so light and airy that one wishes its sound was more substantive. The overall effect is lovely but under-energized. The performance of "La Mer" has similar problems, but after a lackluster beginning, the music begins to move a bit more. The violins suffer from an imbalance in recording and are too soft. Only when the huge crescendo with cymbals arises in the second movement does one sense the power of the orchestra and what it is capable of doing. The third movement also provides some excitement with rapid-fire, precise rhythms and an ethereal harp and celesta that create a bit of magic. The menacing cellos in perfect synchronicity sound like one instrument at the beginning of the concluding movement, and the ending is explosive and powerful. The performance doesn't manage to explore the nuances and little climaxes, and the orchestra does not build intensity into the phrases. This genre of music requires subtlety and nuance, as it relies more on emotion, color, and phrasing than on traditional structure and form, and this performance of "La Mer" doesn't conjure up quite fully the moods of a changing ocean. "Jeux" is given overall a more musically attuned performance; here Gergiev draws the emotion out of the orchestra that he needed to draw out in the other pieces. There are great contrasts between quieter, scurrying passages and powerful brass outbursts. The orchestra plays with perfect rhythmic precision, whether dotted or syncopated, and there are moments of lively playfulness, as the title suggests. Overall, though, this album simply does not deliver the very essence of Debussy. ~ V. Vasan

Product Details

Release Date: 04/12/2011
Label: Lso Live Uk
UPC: 0822231169222
catalogNumber: 692
Rank: 160144


  1. Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), for orchestra, L. 86
  2. Jeux, ballet, L. 126
  3. La Mer, symphonic sketches (3) for orchestra, L. 109

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