|About this Recording
8.550480 - Romantic French Music for Guitar and Orchestra
Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
There is a story that the great guitarist and transcriber, Miguel Llobet, once asked Debussy to write a piece for the guitar, but then failed to turn up for the appointment. Even if the story is apocryphal the fact remains that one of the twentieth century composers who was best suited temperamentally to write for the guitar never did. Manuel de Falla, who in fact did write a guitar piece, dedicated it to the memory of Debussy, simultaneously fulfilling a commission from Llobet. The piece, a homage to Debussy, quotes from La soireé dans Grenade, of which de Falla had this to say: "The intense feeling of Spain crystallized in La soireé dans Grenade is something of a miracle if one considers that it was written by a foreigner, led only by a brilliant intuition". I hope that my orchestration of this piece returns the compliment to de Falla, quoting as it does from his own orchestration of Hommage à Debussy, and that this collection goes some way towards filling a noticeable gap in the guitar repertoire.
Most of the pieces transcribed were originally for the piano - La fille aux cheveux de lin, La soireé dans Grenade and Clair de lune are taken from larger collections - Préludes, Estampes and Suite bergamasque respectively. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, The Little Shepherd and Golliwog's Cake-walk are from Children's Corner Suite, dedicated to Debussy's daughter, Chou-Chou, and En bateau and Ballet are from the Petite suite for two pianos.
The other pieces by Debussy are isolated early compositions and I have tried to choose those which show a wide range of influences from the dry plains of Andalusia to the water-gardens of Japan by way of the theatre and circus atmosphere of late nineteenth century Paris. Debussy does with sound what the Impressionist painters were doing with light. His compositions are a natural choice for arrangement and this selection highlights the mellow tones of the guitar against the rainbow hues of the orchestra.
Debussy himself was no stranger to the orchestra. He not only produced such ambitious works as Images, La mer and Pelléas et Melisande, but also orchestrated several works by other composers. One of these was the anarchical Erik Satie who influenced both Debussy and Ravel, who tried for many years to gain him public recognition. Satie's Gymnopédies are his best known compositions and I have followed Debussy's lead in orchestrating the first and third. The mysterious title suggests ancient Greek dances. Satie's eccentricity did not gain him friends in the musical establishment, and for some years he was forced to make a living as a night-club pianist. Je te veux is taken from the piano version of a rather direct love-song made famous at that time by Paulette Darty, known as the Queen of the Slow Waltz. I have used the full orchestra, each section of which awaits its turn in a sort of Homage to Hollywood. The ending has nothing to do with Satie at all, but I hope that he would appreciate the humorous intention of the quotation from La valse, one of Ravel's larger orchestral works.
Another composer under the spell of Maeterlinck's story Pelléas and Melisande was the one-time director of the Paris Conservatoire, Gabriel Fauré. Sicilienne, originally orchestrated by Fauré's pupil Charles Koechlin, is taken from his incidental music to the drama and occurs at the point where Melisande loses her wedding-ring in a fountain. The Pavane Op. 50 originally included a choral part and evokes the Middle Ages. It aptly illustrates Debussy's comment on his music -"The play of fleeting curves that is the essence of Fauré's music can be compared to the movements of a beautiful woman without either suffering from the comparison".
G. Garcia © 1992
Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic
For Marco Polo the orchestra has made the first compact disc recordings of rare works by Granville Bantock and Joachim Raft .Writing on the last of these, one critic praised the orchestra for its competence comparable to that of the major orchestras of Vienna and Prague. The orchestra has contributed many successful volumes to the complete compact disc Johann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.
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