When La Mer was first performed in 1905, Debussy's fervent admirers were somewhat disappointed. Expecting the "impressionist" colours of Pelléas's delicate, evanescent seascapes, they discovered firmer strokes and denser tones. It was in Burgundy, at Bichain, that Debussy had begun his work two years earlier: "You will retort that the ocean does not exactly bathe the Burgundian hillsides...! [...] But I have innumerable memories; that is better, in my opinion, than a reality whose charm generally weighs too heavily on your thoughts", he wrote to André Messager at the time. His work was therefore done in the studio, not on the terrain, and he sought to capture the very essence of the sea, its perpetual evolution rather than its watery pictorial beauty. Debussy's masterpiece is a true poem of immanence, an attempt to approach the very essence of the marine element, its constant progression, its ever-changing waters and its stupendous capacity for metamorphosis.
His symphonic poems such as Zarathustra might give the impression that Strauss was exclusively romantic and modernist, but this would be to overlook the fact that the composer of Der Rosenkavalier was a great admirer of classicism, and of Mozart in particular. Witness this Oboe Concerto, which, at the end of his life and after the horrors of the Second World War, looks back on the happy, serene classicism of the eighteenth century as a lost paradise, in a spiritual surge to banish the horrors of the age.
€ 5 - 38
Serenade for wind instruments in E flat major, Opus 7
Concerto for oboe in D major