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The Music Box

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

A high point in the current craze among dance bands to make swing versions of popular classics is reached in the adaptation by Larry Clinton of Debussy's "Reverie." So perfect a fusion of so-called classic and modern elements has been made in this piece that as far as the fad is concerned, here is an apologia pro sua vita. The swing version of "Reverie" is superior to the original, because Debussy's composition was not in his best vein. "Reverie" dates from 1890, the year marking the transition from the composer's immature to more mature works. That year, which produced "Clair de Lune," probably among the better works of the composer, could also very well produce "Reverie," which looks back on the earlier immature work, as is often the case in a transitional period. The original score contains a pleasing, long-breathed, impressionistic melody, but Debussy has not treated it with great fertility of invention: his harmonic treatment is not so outstanding as might be expected. There is a second theme that contains a choralc-like melody that does not succeed in the way that Chopin's use of the device did in some of his Nocturnes, nor in the way that Debussy's own use of it did later in "Le Cathederale engloutie."

Larry Clinton has taken the best parts, discarded the less valuable elements of "Reverie," and superimposed upon it the modern idiom of swing with superb effect. The result is the happiest since "Martha" took a new lease on life at the hands of swing and Connie Boswell. True, the subtle swaying rhythm has been sacrified to the accented rhythm of jazz and the chorale theme has been dropped; but the refreshing lack of a melodic sense of direction inherited from the original produces the most enhancing effect yet achieved in swing.

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