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 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.
For Cala Signum, Geoffrey Simon has brought together large ensembles of single instruments—violins, violas, cellos, double basses, horns, trumpets, trombones and harps—drawn from London’s leading solo, orchestral and chamber musicians. Known as The London Sound Series, the recordings have attracted interest amongst instrumentalists worldwide. Geoffrey Simon’s virtuoso 20-cello ensemble, The London Cello Orchestra, has performed for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, and appeared in New York, Switzerland and South Korea.
Claude Debussy was a French composer. He and Maurice Ravel were the most prominent figures associated with impressionist music, though Debussy disliked the term when applied to his compositions. He was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1903. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his use of non-traditional scales and chromaticism influenced many composers who followed.
Debussy's music is noted for its sensory content and frequent usage of non-traditional tonalities. The prominent French literary style of his period was known as Symbolism, and this movement directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant Among his most famous works are his Clair de Lune, his Three Nocturnes and his orchestral piece La Mer.