Debussy – La Mer L.109


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Debussy - La Mer L.109 Cover
Debussy – La Mer L.109 Cover

La Mer

La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre (French for The sea, three symphonic sketches for orchestra), or simply La mer (i.e. The Sea), is an orchestral composition by Claude Debussy. Composed between 1903-5, the piece was initially not well received, but soon became one of Debussy’s most admired orchestral works.

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.

The work has proven very influential, and its use of sensuous tonal colours and its orchestration methods have influenced many later film scores.

While the structure of the work places it outside of both absolute music and programme music as those terms were understood in the early 20th century, it obviously uses descriptive devices to suggest wind, waves and the ambience of the sea. But structuring a piece around a nature subject without any literary or human element to it – neither people, nor mythology, nor ships are suggested in the piece – also was highly unusual at the time.

The United States Air Force Band is a U.S. military band consisting of 177 active-duty members of the United States Air Force. It is the Air Force’s premier musical organization and is based at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C..

Within the band there are six performing ensembles: The Concert Band, Singing Sergeants, Airmen of Note, Air Force Strings, Ceremonial Brass, Max Impact. Collectively, these musical groups perform a wide spectrum of styles, including classical, jazz, popular, patriotic and ceremonial music.

The mission of the Band is to deliver musical products that inspire emotions, create positive impressions and communicate information according to Air Force objectives for the defense of the United States of America.

The Band is part of the United States Air Force Bands Program, which consists of 10 active-duty stateside bands, 4 overseas active-duty band locations and 11 Air National Guard bands.

This exclusive and unique Deluxe download includes the following bonuses:

– The free full 1941 version of Debussy’s La mer by The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Artur Rodzinski, This excellent quality recording has been digitised from Columbia 78rpm Set MM 531 (XCO 32293 – 32298) Recorded December 29, 1941.

– The complete score sheet music of Debussy’s La mer. Paris: Durand & Fils, 1909. Plate D. & F. 6532, 6838.
Reprinted Three Great Orchestral Works in Full Score
Mineola: Dover Publications, 1983.

Monochrome scans. Marie Rolf in the introduction to the Durand Critical Edition: “The 1909 edition of La Mer is the last printed version known to have been sanctioned by Debussy.” The Critical Edition does, however, contain many important corrections (examples: the crescendo in 1st bassoon part on PDF page 4, bar 4 actually starts in bar 3, and what look like accents in the nearby trumpet phrases are actually decrescendos).

Some recordings (Munch/BSO among others) retain the brass fanfares that Debussy removed in this revision (measures 4-11 of rehearsal 59 – PDF pages 125-126). Piano Concerto No. 2 edited by Pavel Lamm (1882–1951). Published: Moscow: Muzgiz, 1947-48.

Reissue (offprint) – Muzyka, n.d.(1965). Plate 1106.

– Cover of the 1905 edition of La mer, based on Hokusai’s Wave

– The full size 1950 x 1281 cover artwork, without titles.

– 39 page booklet with notes and photos about The US Air Force Band, The Cleveland Orchestra, Artur Rodziński, Claude Debussy and La mer L.109.

Cat No: NM 1013

Released 22 March 2018.


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