Claude Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Performed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra.Tuesday, October 25th, 2005
This is a piece for orchestra played at a moderate to slow tempo, perhaps adagio. At the beginning a woodwind (a clarinet or a flute, maybe?) is the featured instrument. Woodwinds play featured solo parts throughout much of the work. Also, there are some nice bits near the beginning played by the trombones (or maybe baritones). Somewhat near the end of the piece, a solo violin plays a lovely part. But, mostly, it’s just the chamber orchestra painting lovely swathes of color, with gentle crescendos and descrendos
The woodwind part at the beginning of this sounds an awful lot like the clarinet intro to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (perhaps Gershwin was influenced by this work). Actually, a lot of this, the overall orchestral texture, in particular, reminds me of parts of Rhapsody in Blue. I guess, judging from its title, that this work is meant to be programmatic (do the solo woodwinds represent the fawn? (later I found out that a faun is a 1/2 human, 1/2 goat sort of thing; I think this piece sounds much better if it’s about a fawn (such as Bambi, for example)—fauns seem a bit twee)), but I just like its lush, gorgeous sound. This was recorded in 2001, when Michael Tilson Thomas was already musical director of the San Francisco Symphony, where I happened to live at the time (601 Van Ness! Apt. 1007! Right up the street from Davies Symphony Hall! Overpriced “junior” 1-bedroom apartment!). I would like to have heard him conduct it with the SFS.