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Debussy Images and other orchestral works   

Images (1905/1912)

Sarabande (Pour le Piano) (1896/1901) (orchestrated by Maurice Ravel 1922)

Danse (Tarentelle Styrienne) (1890) (orchestrated by Maurice Ravel 1922)

Marche écossaise (sur un thème populaire) (1891)

La plus que lente (1910)

 

Orchestre National de Lyon, Jun Märkl
NAXOS 8.572296
[TT: 59:45]

 

This is the third volume of what, I suppose is to be a complete survey of Debussy’ orchestral music from Jun Märkl, and as the second was most impressive, I looked forward to hearing this disc. I wasn’t disappointed. Images is a travelogue, visiting three countries – England, Spain and France respectively. Gigues shows its English credentials by quoting the tune The Keel Row and it is full of marvelous misty atmosphere which Märkl realises as if he were a true son of Gateshead! To Spain with Iberia, which has found its own life outside the suite but is a much better musical experience when heard in context. Again Märkl shows all the colours of the music with vivid clarity, the orchestra delighting in Debussy’s many felicitous touches – the famous section where the violins have to play as if they were guitars is especially effective. Rondes de printemps is less successful but the performance grows in stature as it progresses. Anyone recording this work has three problems in front of him – Ansermet, Boulez and Monteux – but Märkl rises to the challenge and even though the final section isn’t totally successful it is more than good enough and, at the modest price, this is a disk worth having.

 

The three make weights are real pieces of fluff, but most enjoyable they are. Ravel’s two orchestrations are little polished gems, Danse being especially delightful, as is Debussy’s own, very early, uncharacteristic, Marche ecossaise. The disk ends with a sumptuous, and almost Hollywood–like, performance of the valse triste La plus que lente. It makes a delightful ending to a disk which can take its place, with confidence, on any record shelf.

 

Bob Briggs