Claude Debussy – La Mer (The Sea)


La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre HD (French for The sea, three symphonic sketches for orchestra), or simply La mer (i.e. The Sea), is an orchestral composition (L 109) by the French composer Claude Debussy. It was started in 1903 in France and completed in 1905 on the English Channel coast in Eastbourne. The premiere was given by the Lamoureux Orchestra under the direction of Camille Chevillard on 15 October 1905 in Paris. The piece was initially not well received – partly because of inadequate rehearsal and partly because of Parisian outrage over Debussy’s having recently left his first wife for the singer Emma Bardac. But it soon became one of Debussy’s most admired and frequently performed orchestral works, and became more so in the ensuing century. The first recording was made by Piero Coppola in 1928.
La mer is scored for 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 cornets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tamtam, glockenspiel, 2 harps and strings.
typical performance of this piece lasts about 23 or 24 minutes. It is in three movements:
(~09:00) “De l’aube à midi sur la mer” – très lent (si mineur)
(~06:30) “Jeux de vagues” – allegro (do dièse mineur)
(~08:00) “Dialogue du vent et de la mer” – animé et tumultueux (do dièse mineur)
Usually translated as:
“From dawn to noon on the sea” or “From dawn to midday on the sea” – very slowly (B minor)
“Play of the Waves” – allegro (C sharp minor)
“Dialogue of the wind and the sea” or “Dialogue between wind and waves” – animated and tumultuous (C sharp minor)

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