A superb Gergiev performance of Debussy

A collection of Debussy’s best known orchestral works, from the earlier Prelude to the 20th century ballet Jeux.

Composer: Debussy
Repertoire:  La Mer; Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun; Jeux
Artists: London Symphony Orchestra/ Valery Gergiev
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: lSO lIVEL SO0692

The Music: A collection of Debussy’s best known orchestral works with the first great example of musical impressionism La Mer at its heart, this trio represents the very best of Debussy’s exquisitely refined musical language, defined by the poetic symbolism which inspired him.

The Performance: Bringing together performances over six nights by the London Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican, this collection has convinced me of Gergiev’s brilliance in repertoire which I hadn’t previously associated with the emotional Russian. From the spine-tingling opening of Prelude, through all the colours and moods of La Mer to the enigmatic pace and enticing phrasing of Leux, Gergiev brings out both the lucidity and the detail required here, whilst the orchestra responds to the mood and timing he demands with virtuoso touches illuminating the orchestra’s expressive, almost sensual playing.

The Verdict: Gergiev loves the drama and tension of La Mer, but never allows the dynamic tension to overshadow the delicate subtlety of Debussy’s revolutionary, evocative music. The performance of the two outer works is simply sublime.

Want More? If you love the lSO’s stylistic French performances, Gergiev delivers an intoxicating version of Ravel’s music
(lSO Live, lSO0693).