Debussy: Le martyre de Saint Sébastien

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COMPOSERS: Debussy
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Le martyre de Saint Sébastien
PERFORMER: Felicia Montealegre, Fritz Weaver (narrator), Adele Addison, Virginia Babikian (soprano), Marlena Kleinman, Joanna Simon (mezzo-soprano); Choral Art Society, New York PO/ Leonard Bernstein
CATALOGUE NO: SMK 60596 ADD Reissue (1966)
This is Debussy’s last stage work, a synthesis of orchestral and vocal music, dance, mime and speech, written (in 1911) after all the well-known orchestral works. D’Annunzio’s text is spoken in Bernstein’s own translation (the recording made in 1962, his wife one of the narrators), but the music is sung in French. It’s uneven but a worthwhile curiosity, among its best moments the serenely celestial ‘Magic Chamber’, in which the NYPO strings bloom, and ‘The Wounded Laurel’ which could have come from La mer. Mr and Mrs Bernstein were having a good day judging by the passion which comes across. Christopher Fifield

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