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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Debussy - Philharmonia, Giulini ‎– La Mer / Trois Nocturnes

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This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge shares music from an old “bargain bin” disk I’ve enjoyed immensely over the years. I’m sure I’ve discussed in past shares my purchase of a handful of discs from I Grande Concerti a series by Longanesi Periodici. Founded by Leo Longanesi in 1946 the publishing house was taken over in 1977 by Italian Messagg erie.

These records, mostly reissues or studio or broadcast recordings, were in the bargain section of this old record store because the liner notes were in Italian – I’m certainly not fluent, but the lack of English notes didn’t take away anything from my listening pleasure…

Walter Legge, the Philharmonia's founder, and Karajan, then its principal conductor, had heard Carlo Maria Giulini in Milan around 1955, and engaged him to record Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bizet's Jeux d'Enfants. In 1959 Giulini recorded two Mozart operas, Figaro and Don Giovanni, with the orchestra, the former being preceded by more than 100 hours of rehearsal.

CMG’s Philharmonia recordings for EMI are legendary: as well as the Mozart operas, he recorded the Verdi Requiem and Four Sacred Pieces as well as orchestral recordings including Dvorak's New World Symphony and Tchaikovsky 's Pathetique Symphony, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Brahms's complete symphonies and, as presented here, the much admired 1962 Debussy's La mer and Nocturnes, an album that has become highly collectable for its sensitive interpretation and atmospheric sound; according to Discogs there are 15 different reissues of this disc, not counting the CD couplings of this pair of Debussy triptychs with other Debussy and French works recorded by CMG for the EMI label.

The works themselves don’t require much introduction, other than to say they are examples of Debussy’s impressionist style and incisive orchestration – from the waves of the Sea crushing the coastline to the ethereal humming chorus of mermaids closing his three nocturnes for orchestra.

Happy listening


Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La mer, esquisses symphoniques pour orchestra, L 109
Nocturnes, tryptique symphonique pour choeur de femmes et orchestra, L 91

Philharmonia Chorus (L. 91)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Carlo Maria Giulini, conducting

Label: Longanesi Periodici ‎– GCL 06
Series: I Grandi Concerti
(EMI Re-issue, Recording first issued in 1962)

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Classical Music , Recorded Music

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