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News and notes from the world of classical music.

Debussy Orchestral Works/Heras-Casado | 90.5 Classical New Release Of The Month - September, 2018

Harmonia Mundi
Album cover of the Philharmonia Orchestra/Heras-Casado album of Debussy Orchestral Works

It begins with one of the most famous flute lines in history… and played deftly by the Principle flute of the Philharmonia Orchestra, Samuel Coles.

[Music sample of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun]

2018 marks 100 years since the passing of composer Claude Debussy, and the Philharmonia Orchestra has released an album of 3 works by the French Impressionistic master. It begins with the soft flute and textures that are lighter than most recordings of the famed "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun."

But the music of Frenchman Claude Debussy didn’t come easy to the Spanish conductor of this recording, the rising star Pablo Heras-Casado. "Debussy always created in me a huge respect," recounts Heras-Casado, "as any composer, of course, but I always thought that was music that was a bit more distant to me. I don't know why, but after my first experiences, I realized that was very much part of myself."

[Music sample of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun]

The middle of this Philharmonia Orchestra album that we’ve chosen as the 90.5 Classical New Release of the Month features a lesser known bit of Debussy’s work. A musical play he composed called "The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian." It’s obscure but in these Symphonic Fragments, you hear that more dramatic side of Debussy.

[Music sample of Le Martyre de saint Sebastien]

For the conductor of this album, Pablo Heras-Casado, the trick to making these Debussy works fresh was to chamber-ize the pieces, essentially. Pare things down. "Regardless of size of the orchestration, the size of hte piece, the length of the piece you are working with, you always have to treat him as the most intimate chamber music. And every single moment of the piece, it's plenty of tonalities, colors and that's really challenging, but it's really wonderful."

The finale of this Philharmonia Orchestra album led by Pablo-Heras Casado is the sweeping work "La Mer," or "The Sea."

[Music sample of La Mer]

Pablo Hera Casado leading the Philharmonia Orchestra in a trio of works by Claude Debussy on this Harmonia Mundi album chosen as the 90.5 Classical New Release of the Month for September.

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