Jean Marnold praised the blend of its grandeur and delicacy and the weaving of shimmering colors into a fascinating polyphonic tissue. Louis Laloy vaunted the maturity of Debussy's concise, classical organization of the former art of suggestion, nuance and allusions into an intentionally incomplete work. M. D. Calvacoresi similarly praised the stronger colors, more definite lines and more robust inspiration that condensed and clarified the sum total of Debussy's discoveries. Others, though, were less enchanted. Pierre Lalo, critic of the influential le Temps, found it too studied, with nothing to do with the sea. Jean Chantavonic, while praising its evocative qualities, found it superficial and incoherent. Jean d'Voline felt the rhythm elementary and insipid. Michael Stegemann attempts to reconcile the two views, seeing La Mer as Debussy's attempt to meet his traditionalist critics part-way with clearer structures than prolonged nuances, more color than symbolism and more statements than suggestions.
You can hear La Mer arranged for three pianos in Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from Lugano 2012. Including both modern, romantic, and classical pieces, this wonderful three-disc set features Prokofiev's Sonata No. 2; Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn for Two Pianos; Schumann's Stücke im Volkston (5), Op. 102; Smetana's Sonata movement for 2 pianos, 8 hands in E Minor; Dvorák's Piano Quartet No. 2; Mahler's Piano Quartet in A Minor; Medtner's Piano Quintet in C Major, Op. post; Mozart's Sonata for Piano duet in D Major, K. 381, and Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503; Martucci's Theme & Variations in E-flat, Op. 58; and more.
Here is a taste of Martha Argerich at Lugano, with Debussy's Petite Suite for piano four hands.
Love Debussy? There's plenty more here, including performances by the late, great Earl Wild and Van Cliburn.