No, I do not want to talk about La mer (the sea). I think it is a totally uninteresting and overrated work. I have this record for the first part of the B side. I just love Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. It has colour, and sounds like, breaths fairytale. It gets you straight into another world.
Boulez is famous for his recordings of Debussy. For a recording of this particular work, I would look at how the orchestra sounds. The colour of this work has to really shine. Not every orchestra can do that.
A link to the English translation of the original poem by Stéphane Mallarmé: https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/French/Mallarme.php#anchor_Toc223495077. The summary from the liner notes:
A faun is lying on the borderland of waking and sleeping in a grove. The atmosphere is palpitating with the golden midday heat of an eastern day. He has seen some slender-limbed, light-footed nymphs flit by: he would perpetuate the lovely vision. But he asks himself: Am I in love with a dream? Fully awake, he begins to reflect and analyse. He dissects the sensations and emotions he has experienced; questions the truth of the dream; recalls it again and again… His thought become exaggerated, distorted; his senses predominate… The current of his ideas become more and more realistic; at last he imagines himself under the shadow of Etna with Venus in his arms. And while he is anticipating punishment for such desecration, sleeps visits his eyelids once more; he bids adieu to waking facts and reality and in the shades of oblivion he will go to rightful quest of the shadowy, vanished realm.
The title of this record is the English translation of the second work, but not of the first: La mer is not translated to the sea. However, Prelude to the afternoon of a faun is. Jeux is not. What a mess. And speaking of a mess:
What is that? This is Americans thinking the whole world does their weird capitalising of titles. Long ago in a bout of activism I sent them an email about it. If you add stuff to the database, it is not possible to use non capitalised titles. It just replaces them for you. The result really hurts my eyes. In my mind I’m hearing a really ugly American accent to the French words.