|Cover of the original score of La Mer.|
This is a gorgeous cycle of what the composer called Symphonic Sketches, depicting the ocean in various stages of wind, rain, play, and sunlight. The footage is of the San Francisco Bay Area. The band is the Cleveland Orchestra, under the expert direction of Pierre Boulez.
La Mer premiered in 1905 in Paris. Although it was not well-received at the first performance, the cycle of tone poems eventually became one of Debussy's most popular showpieces. It is notable for the constant, shifting textures in the strings and wind, and the bright surge of brass and timpani that calls out the climax of the first movement.
So here's the three movements:
This 1995 recording won a whole mess of awards in a period when Pierre Boulez was starting to re-make a lot of his great recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. The Cleveland Orchestra are in excellent form here, and they respond well to Maestro Boulez' leadership.
For some reason, Debussy's impressionistic music always sounds right to me when conducted by Boulez--his precise style and crisp inflections sharpen the aural edges of each work, making the music clearer and to my ears, more enjoyable.
The disc also includes an ethereal reading of Nocturnes (sort of a sequel to La Mer) and a performance of the complex ballet score Jeux. I've had it in my collection (in one form or another) since my grad school days, and I can't recommend it strongly enough.