The distinguished Polish conductor Jacek Kaspszyk conducts Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in Claude Debussy's "La Mer". Recorded at Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw, Poland, on January 27, 2018.
Claude Debussy's rich and evocative depiction of the underwater realm remains an impressionistic milestone, a classic of its type. But what makes La Mer so good?
Ever-resistant to the confines of normal practice, impressionist composer Claude Debussy insisted that his La Mer was not a symphony. No, even though it contains three symphonic movements that could quite happily be classified as a symphony. Debussy preferred to call it a set of "symphonic sketches" – something of a milestone in itself.
La Mer (literally "The Sea") was a confusing prospect to audiences of 1905, as it was neither a normal symphony nor a complete departure. Parisian audiences initially didn't really warm to it either, perhaps partly because of the scandal of Debussy having left his wife for the singer Emma Barduc.
Debussy took inspiration not from the rolling waves of the Pacific or the Atlantic, but from the rather more unlikely locale of Eastbourne on the south coast of England. He finished composing the work's three movements there in 1905, saying that he found more inspiration in paintings of the sea than being near the sea itself.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
♪ La Mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre / The Sea, three symphonic sketches for orchestra (1903-1905, rev. 1908)
i. De l'aube à midi sur la mer / From dawn to midday on the sea
ii. Jeux de vagues / Play of the waves
iii. Dialogue du vent et de la mer / Dialogue between wind and waves
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Jacek Kaspszyk
Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, Poland, February 3, 2017
Jacek Kaspszyk born on August 10, 1952 in Biała Podlaska, Poland. He studied conducting, music theory and composition at the Warsaw Academy of Music, graduating in 1975, that same year making his conducting debut at Warsaw's Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in a premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni. In 1976 he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. The following year he won III Prize at the prestigious Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin as one of the "explosive new talents" identified by Richard Osborne in his biography of Karajan where he writes "it was not until Jansons in 1971 and Gergiev and Kaspszyk in 1977 that genuinely explosive talent blazed through". In 1978 he made his debut with the Berlin and New York Philharmonics and was appointed Principal Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – two years later becoming their Music Director.
In 1982 he moved to London where he made his debut at the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra after which he appeared regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Halle, Capital Radio's Wren Orchestra (as Principal Conductor), Royal Scottish National, BBC Scottish and BBC National Orchestra of Wales with whom he made his BBC Proms debut in 1984. Since then he has conducted many international orchestras including the Bayerische Rundfunk, RSO Berlin, Orchestre Nationale de France, Wiener Symphoniker, the Oslo, Stockholm, Rotterdam and Prague Philharmonics and has toured Australia with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Between 1991-1995 he was Principal Conductor and Music Advisor of the Nord Nederlands Orkest. Throughout this period he also appeared in the USA (Cincinnati SO, San Diego SO), Canada (Calgary Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony), Japan (Yomiuri Nippon SO, Tokyo Philharmonic) and performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and New Zealand Symphony orchestras.
In 1998 Jacek Kaspszyk was appointed Artistic and Music Director of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and two years later also Managing Director. Under his tenure the company enjoyed not only great success at home but also garnered international recognition for acclaimed performances at such venues as the Beijing Festival (2001), the Bolshoi in Moscow, Sadler's Wells Theatre in London (2004), Hong Kong Arts Festival (2005) and Peralada Festival in Spain (2006) as well as during three highly successful tours of Japan (2001, 2003, 2005), prompting the British monthly magazine "Opera Now" to write in 2004 that "Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera had filled the gap between Berlin and Moscow on the map of Europe".
Kaspszyk's opera career has also included productions for many renowned opera houses among others: Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, Opéra Comique in Paris, Opera de Lyon, Opera de Bordeaux, Stockholm Opera, English National Opera, Opera North Leeds, Scottish Opera, Zurich Opera, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. Between 2006-2008 he worked regularly with the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet in Vilnius whose acclaimed productions of Richard Strauss' Salome and Wagner's Die Walküre he also conducted at festivals in Ljubljana and Ravenna (2007) and during a well received residency at the Israeli Opera Tel Aviv – Yafo (2008).
In 2006 he became Artistic Director of the W. Lutoslawski Wroclaw Philharmonic and in 2009 was again appointed Music Director of the Polish National Radio SO with whom he toured the UK that same year. This period also saw the start of his highly successful association with the China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony and Shanghai Symphony orchestras as well as his annual appearances at the Lugano Festival in the Progetto Martha Argerich, a CD of which is released each year by EMI Classics (now Warner Classics).
The recipient of many awards and honours, in 2011 he received the prestigious Elgar Society Medal for his interpretations of the composer's music, joining distinguished colleagues like Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andrew Litton and Leonard Slatkin.
Jacek Kaspszyk's extensive discography includes his award-winning recording of Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino with the Polish Chamber Opera, the Edison Prize-awarded recording of Baird's Concerto lugubre and several critically acclaimed CDs for Collins Classics with all four London orchestras among them a recording of works by Johann Strauss II with the LPO which the Gramophone critic compared with Carlos Kleiber stating "and you can get no higher praise than that". His recording of Lutoslawski's Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4 with the Wroclaw Philharmonic received the Polish music industry's Fryderyk Award while his recordings with the Polish National Opera of Moniuszko's The Haunted Manor for EMI was awarded a Platinum Disc and that of Szymanowski's King Roger for CD Accord was nominated in 2006 by the BBC Music Magazine as "Record of the Year" and acclaimed by Gramophone Magazine whose critic wrote: "on every count, including pennies, this sweeps the board [...] under Kaspszyk it makes a mesmerizing impression".
On 1st September 2013 Jacek Kaspszyk was appointed Music and Artistic Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic – The National Orchestra of Poland. He opened his tenure by conducting the Philharmonic's ensembles in the final concert of the Chopin and his Europe Festival followed on 22nd September by an historic Warsaw Autumn Festival concert with the pianist Krystian Zimerman; the latter being one of the highlights of the Lutoslawski Year (programme: Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto and Symphony No.3). Jacek Kaspszyk also conducted the first three concerts in the history of the Philharmonic to be transmitted through the Internet.
“Debussy: one of the most original of moderns”, 1908, & “French composer Claude Debussy dies”, 1918 – Two articles from the Guardian archive
Javier Perianes plays Claude Debussy: Préludes Book I, & Estampes (Audio video)
Claude Debussy: Violin Sonata in G minor – Renaud Capuçon, Lahav Shani (HD 1080p)
Claude Debussy: Préludes, Books I & II – Walter Gieseking (Audio video)
Claude Debussy: Violin Sonata in G minor – Alina Pogostkina, Jérôme Ducros (HD 1080p)
Claude Debussy: La Mer – Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fabien Gabel (HD 1080p)
Claude Debussy: Les Trois Sonates (The Late Works) – Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Javier Perianes, Xavier de Maistre, Antoine Tamestit, Magali Mosnier, Tanguy de Williencourt (Audio video)
Claude Debussy: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune – National Youth Orchestra of the USA, Valery Gergiev (HD 1080p)
Claude Debussy and the Poetic Image
Nikolai Lugansky plays Claude Debussy: Suite bergamasque, Deux Arabesques, and οther works for solo piano (Audio video)
100 Years After Debussy's Death, He Remains the First ‘Modern’ Composer – An essay on Claude Debussy by Stephen Hough in the New York Times
Terrified and delighted: Works by Claude Debussy and André Caplet inspired by Edgar Allan Poe – Musicians from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (HD 1080p)
Claude Debussy: Suite bergamasque, Pour le piano, Estampes, Images (oubliées) – Zoltán Kocsis (Audio video)
Claude Debussy: Images, D'un cahier d'esquisses, L'Isle joyeuse, Deux arabesques, etc. – Zoltán Kocsis (Audio video)
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.9 in D Major – Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacek Kaspszyk (HD 1080p)
Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major – Marc-André Hamelin, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacek Kaspszyk (HD 1080p)
Gustav Mahler: Kindertotenlieder – Ewa Podleś, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacek Kaspszyk (HD 1080p)