You Decide Debussy's Birthday Music

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

birthday cake with candles (gotbrimmed/flickr)

All this week WQXR has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy, born on Aug. 22, 1862. For today's Showdown, we asked you to choose from one of his orchestral masterpieces: La mer, Nocturnes and Images.

You chose Images in a new recording by Simon Rattle at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and we played it at 12 noon.


Performance details for the piece to be played at 12 noon:
La mer (The Sea): Claudio Abbado, conductor; Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
Nocturnes: Charles Dutoit, conductor; Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
Winner: Images for Orchestra: Simon Rattle, conductor; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (this is a new recording to be released on Aug. 28).


La mer (The Sea)


Images for Orchestra

Comments [19]


Thanks, Midge & WQXR, for the birthday dedication and musical treat! The new recording of Images sounds lovely.

Debussy fans in the area might wish to check out some afternoon performances of his music today and tomorrow in Liberty Plaza, downtown:


Aug. 22 2012 12:32 PM
lester gelman

A new recording of Images would be a nice way to start the day

Aug. 22 2012 12:02 PM
Gloria G Karp

I would love to hear the new Simon Rattle recording

Aug. 22 2012 11:43 AM
Sally Dorst from upper west side

I vote for Images because it is beautiful and not as familiar as the others.

Aug. 22 2012 11:42 AM
ann hodgkins from denville nj

While all are beautiful Nocturnes gets my vote. Every time I hear it I have to stop what I am doing(unless driving!) to listen.

Aug. 22 2012 11:39 AM
Raymond Banacki from Brooklyn, New York

"La Mer", of course.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential composers of the 20th Century, Debussy wrote two of my favorite pieces of music - "La Mer" and "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune" - which, at the time, were actually regarded as controversial pieces of music.

I also love the fact that Debussy had a short-lived association with Tchaikovsky's wealthy patroness, Madame von Meck.

Aug. 22 2012 11:26 AM
jusi from Brooklyn, NY

A new recording? Even though Sir Simon left Birmingham for Berlin quite a while ago, he brought Birmingham's orchestra up from middling to world class. For me, he is one of the greatest living conductors. So: welcome to the new release, and yes, please let's hear it.

Aug. 22 2012 11:25 AM
Martin Verdrager from Upper West Side

"Image" is my three fold reasoning. Rarely heard, Debussy's paean to three beautiful lands in Europe: England, Spain and France, and a new recording. Choices in order of the shape of the work, hopefully played as a whole this afternoon.

Aug. 22 2012 11:18 AM
Marilla Owens from Charlottesville, VA

As wonderfully evocative as the other two (and all of Debussy's works) are, I also voted for Images because it gets less air time and I'm curious to hear the new recording. The online sample certainly sounds good. I listen at work via the website stream and it seems to me that La Mer has been plaid a good deal lately.

Aug. 22 2012 11:14 AM
winnifred from New York City

La Mer is played very often; we've heard it over and over, and although it is a lovely piece of music, change is good. Variety is good. I've had this issue with QXR about playing the same things too frequently and ignoring some other brilliant pieces. Thank goodness for Q2, or whatever it's called these days. I love Nocturns also, but as it's trailing badly at the moment, and as I don't want La Mer to win, my vote goes to "Images".
Joyeux Anniversaire a Claude Debussy! (sorry, I don't have the accent grave on my keyboard for "a")

Aug. 22 2012 11:12 AM
Carol S from NJ

I've always loved La Mer, AND QXR!

Aug. 22 2012 11:11 AM
serge steinlauf from riverdale

Nocturnes is rarely heard although it is one of Debussy's masterpieces.

Aug. 22 2012 11:06 AM

It's also my birthday today, so hope my vote for Images counts twice-- or even 22X! :)

Aug. 22 2012 10:31 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

"Nocturnes": mystery and the sense of dream-time that comes through with the wordless chorus. Also, as it's the underdog, it deserves to be played at least once.

Aug. 22 2012 10:12 AM
Kevin Rigoulot from Yaphank, NY

Was really hoping to see "L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune" in your playlist choices - the piece is what I consider to be one of Debussy's most beautiful, sensual and impressionistic orchestral pieces. Maybe it's so dear in my heart because it was one of the first classical pieces I ever heard "live" when a local orchestra came to perform one afternoon at our grade school. That was the clincher for my love of classical music and it's been a part of my daily life ever since.

Bon anniversaire, Monsieur Debussy!!

Aug. 22 2012 10:02 AM

I voted for Images as it is one of the least heard pieces of Debussy's. I like them all, but Images gets a vote only for that reason.

Aug. 22 2012 09:57 AM

Vote on LaMer.

Aug. 22 2012 08:55 AM
Toni from Manhattan

La Mer is a great piece, but a bit overplayed to the detriment of some of Debussy's other wonderful pieces that deserve more air time.
I would be happy to hear either Nocturnes or Images but Images is by far the least often heard so that would be my choice today.

Bon Anniversaire Claude!

Aug. 22 2012 08:30 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

Thanks to high school and college band directors who were not opposed to transcriptions, I learned about Debussy by playing his Children's Corner and Petite Suites, Fetes, and March Ecossaise based on Scottish Themes all which helped develop a life-long appreciation for the composer. Your contest selections are as unfair a task as picking a favorite child!

Aug. 22 2012 05:08 AM

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