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"The sea has been very good to me", wrote Debussy to his publisher shortly before he finished "La Mer". "She has shown me all her moods." Debussy began his three symphonic sketches in 1903. The work was premiered in Paris on 15 October 1905. The first piece, "From Dawn Until Noon on the Sea", begins with low, sustained strings which give an impression of the immense power of the ocean. In the second piece, "The Play of the Waves", the ocean whips itself into a fury, with rainbow colorings appearing and vanishing in fountains of spray. The "Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea" opens on a deep, threatening note, as if announcing a coming storm. After a siren-like call, the chorale heard in the first movement returns in an exultant climax."I truly admire this orchestra and hope it becomes better known abroad," confided Leonard Bernstein in 1989 to the audience in Rome's Auditorio Pio before his concert of works by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) with the prestigious "Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia." In the words of Rome's "Il Giornale," Bernstein served up a "Debussy that is neither ethereal nor shapeless, but uncommonly vital, caught in the full light of noon."

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