Claude Debussy was the father of “Impressionism” in music. Inspired by such French painters as Monet, Renoir and Degas, and poets of the “Symbolist” school, including Mallarmé, Verlaine and Baudelaire, he produced compositions which sought to suggest – rather than to display – the fleeting aspects of colour and light on imaginary scenes and subjects. With vibrant timbres and half-lit dream-worlds, his music was at the opposite extreme to the grandiose orgies of sound so beloved by Wagner and Richard Strauss. Such were the evocative qualities of Debussy’s piano compositions – their nuances, moods, and even their exotic titles – that many musicians felt compelled to transcribe them for orchestra in the same way as Debussy himself had orchestrated two of Satie’s piano Gymnopédies. The present selection therefore includes several such arrangements of Debussy’s most atmospheric pieces, framing the composer’s purely orchestral Nocturnes.
Australian conductor Geoffrey Simon is resident in London and has appeared there with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and English Chamber Orchestra. Internationally, he has appeared with the Adelaide, Atlanta, Bournemouth, Canberra, City of Birmingham, Fort Worth, Melbourne, Milwaukee, Queensland, Sapporo, Shanghai, St Louis, Sydney, Tasmanian, Vermont and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, the Israel, Moscow, Munich and New Japan Philharmonic Orchestras, the American Symphony, the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and the Australian Opera. His music directorships have included the Albany Symphony Orchestra (New York), the Australian Sinfonia (London), the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra (Indiana), the Orquestra Simfònica de Balears “Ciutat de Palma” (Majorca) and the Sacramento Symphony (California). With the Palma Orchestra he conducted Paul Patterson’s Te Deum for the King and Queen of Spain, and with the Sacramento Symphony he created the World View series of concerts, attracting audiences from twenty non-European cultures. Geoffrey Simon is Music Director Emeritus of the Northwest Mahler Orchestra in Seattle, with which he has conducted the Mahler symphonic cycle and Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony. He is Consultant for Classical Special Projects for Arts Global (a foundation for emerging artists, London, Montreux and New York) and has served as a jury member for Young Concert Artists, PianoTexas, Australian Cello Awards and Royal Over-Seas League. Geoffrey Simon was a student of Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Kempe, Hans Swarowsky and Igor Markevich, and a major prize-winner at the first John Player International Conductors’ Award. He has made forty six recordings for a number of labels, combining discoveries with familiar works by Tchaikovsky, Respighi, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Smetana, Bloch, Grainger, Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Les Six. Amongst the contemporary composers he has recorded are Barry Conyngham, John Downey, Paul Patterson and Zhou Long.