Talmi + OSQ + SACD = A Lustrous Grab-Bag of Debussy Orchestr
Dan Fee | Berkeley, CA USA | 04/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whew, from the very first notes played by the band, this collection of orchestrated Debussy piano pieces just sparkles, and keeps on sparkling.
A listener might be sorely tempted to conclude that these piano works were ever more substantial and mysterious than their keyboard genius reveals. But wisdom counsels us to remember that the depths shine through, on all the bright surfaces of all.
Various conductors and/or composers have tried their hand, here. We get orchestrations by conductors Ernst Ansermet and Leopold Stokowski. Less well-known composers Andre Caplet and Henri Busser clothe the piano works in apt dress, and of course, even the much better known Ravel showed the way with the Sarabande that eventually ended up in the Pour le piano suite.
What to praise? All the subtle, sounded differences that the different hands reveal? Or the underlying core genius that helped birth the musical Impressionist movement, whole, sprung like Athena from Jove?
Make up your own mind when you listen. Let your passing thoughts and moods drift, swell, uplift and settle back down to earthly matters. To hear these deft bon-bons is to become kin to the green things of nature that always bend to the wind in every season.
We would ordinarily lament that a regional orchestra was getting its chance at each and every delight, wishing for somebody major to pay good attention. But the regional band on display here is so good that what else could a listener wish, other than they just get to play on and on and on and on. No department of the band is weak or mediocre or uninvolved. The woodwinds are shining as they can be gentle and suggestive. The strings have sufficient weight that they hardly need to saw or scratch or posture. The brass have weight and sheen too, but it remains of the most subtle and inflected metals, fired and precious.
All of these wonderful qualities are captured beautifully by the super audio sound engineers. You hear a sense of the hall, but the point is always the music.
I've been a fan of Yoav Talmi ever since he put his reading of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony on an old Chandos red book CD which is still floating around the used product stores. Then he was leading another less than first rank orchestra, the Oslo Phlharmonic, and everybody did better than good. Like many of Blomstedt's readings, Talmi is profoundly musical, and very little interested in flash for its own sake, not even when Late Romantic music can bear the full weight of high profile gestures.
All of this hale and hearty musical normalcy serves us quite well in this odd corner of the extant Debussy repertoire. There is more magic here in phrase after phrase after phrase. It is actually a bit too excellent and too beautiful - as if one walked for hours in colorful wide fields of roses upon roses, as far as the eye could see. What a coup to so expertly outdo so many, more heralded brand-name famous conductor/famous band recordings of warhorse Debussy.
Drinks all round. Bravo. And thanks to all involved. Yes, get this one. Five stars."
Astounding. On par with Stokowski
G. Stewart | Chesapeake, VA USA | 11/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here you have many of Debussy's pieces that were transcribed from piano to orchestra. Included are 2 suites, Children's Corner and Petite Suite, as well as some individual pieces and Debussy's less well known Six Epigrahes Antiques. All of these are transcribed beautifully and performed amazingly well. At the average CD price, this is a deal. Yoav Talmi and Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec are brilliant, their performance passionate and dazzling. Stokowski has always been my favorite Debussy interpreter, but this is impressive and the performances rank with his performances as well as the many other greats that have taken on Debussy (Rattle, Previn, Martinon among some of my other favorites).
Children's Corner contains 'Golliwogg's Cakewalk', the piece that references the "Tristan Chord". Debussy dedicated this suite to his daughter, Claude-Emma who he affectionately called Chou-chou. The Six Epigrahes Antiques is a still mainly performed for piano or piano and accompaniment which makes this version both pleasing to hear and rare. 2 versions of "Clair de Lune", my favorite classical piece, offer the opportunity to hear the nuances in the composition through different transcriptions; I have at least 20 different versions of 'Suite Bergamasque' which contains "Clair" and these 2 versions are both as good, if not better, than the other versions I have heard.
This is a great place to begin one's Debussy quest. I highly recommend this CD for Debussy lovers, like me, and people new to the master French composer; you won't be disappointed.
I also recommend that you check out the piano versions of these pieces as they are what Debussy originally composed and they cannot be overlooked for their ethereal beauty on solo piano. I recommend Jean-Yves Thibaudet - Debussy - Vol. 1 and Jean-Yves Thibaudet - Debussy - Vol. 2 for any of Debussy's piano. If the price tag on those are too steep for you, check out Debussy - Complete Piano Music, also nice at a lower price.
For a different spin on the Six Epigrahes Antiques, I recommend the version for piano and flute, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev (the Ravel and Prokofiev are also excellent).