Richard Blackford

a new Lyrita
Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Nimbus on-line

Piano Trios
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

British composers

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



alternatively AmazonUK

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Images pour orchestre (1906-1911) [37:10]
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1894) [11:37]
La Mer (1905) [26:24]
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Leonard Bernstein
rec. Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma, June 1989. Live recording. DDD

Deutsche Grammophon's Entrée series is aimed fairly and squarely at the new classical music buyer.  The website dedicated to the series describes it as “a basic library of essential repertoire that introduces new consumers to the world of classical music and can be promoted in life-style magazines etc ”, and notes that “the series combines artistic value with visual appeal –  it looks classy and more expensive than it actually is – a series that people will be looking at as well as listening to”.
The stylish monochromatic cover art that adorns each issue is certainly attractive and is reminiscent of the old Virgin Ultraviolet range, which was similarly priced and also well received by the “lifestyle magazine” segment of the market.  The pitch is enhanced by the inclusion of decent booklet notes that emphasise biography, getting new listeners to take an interest in the composer rather than frightening them with detailed discussion of the music.  As a final sweetener, the conductor is one of the big names: Leonard Bernstein.  Unfortunately, here Bernstein's name is not necessarily a harbinger of idiomatic or reliable performance.
The Images are played out of order, with Gigues first up, followed by Rondes du Printemps and Iberia bringing up the tail.  These pieces actually come off quite well, though they do not sound very French.  Bernstein's enthusiasm elicits a muscular nonchalance from the orchestra, in particular from the winds and the brash brass.  Gigues and Iberia in particular have a sun-drenched, salt spray Mediterranean tang to them, and there is real snap in Iberia's final bars.  The orchestra's playing is a bit scrappy – not terrible, but noticeably out of the big league.
Bernstein's Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune is probably the longest and most languid I know.  It has a lot to recommend it, and plenty of romantic ardour.  However, at Bernstein's pace – he takes easily a minute longer than the average – it can sound directionless.  As much as I like Bernstein's view, I'll take Stokowski's erotic rendition of this piece any day.
La Mer receives the most controversial performance on this disc.  There are some magical moments, like the beckoning horn calls at about 8:30 into the first movement.  There are also some real miscalculations.  Bernstein's tempi overall are slow.  This did not bother me so much in the first and second movements, though it sapped the sea of some of its mercurial mystery.  The third movement, though, becomes distended – the chromatic passages about 1:30 into the final movement lack impetus, and the end of the piece is like a train-wreck in slow motion.
Bernstein's insights are certainly not to be dismissed out of hand and, though on balance I found this disc disappointing, it is by no means all bad.  That said, I think Deutsche Grammophon could have chosen better, more idiomatic, less idiosyncratic recordings for its Entrée audience.  Karajan's 1960s or 1980s La Mer or his Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, for example.  Then there’s Boulez's prize-winning Debussy disc, which has been in the catalogue for twelve years and is surely due for a mid-price reissue.  The sound is also not the best, the acoustic being brightly lit and dry with a hard edge to the brass and upper strings.  The ear adjusts, but will beginners have the patience?
This is a disc for Debussy collectors and Bernstein fans only.  New initiates are better served by the recent re-release of Jean Martinon's excellent performances on EMI Gemini (also available in a Brilliant Classics box, or in an EMI Bargain Box together with Ravel's orchestral music).  And notice the Gemini cover art – stylish monochromatic pictures!  Look out for the advertisements in your favourite lifestyle magazine.
Tim Perry


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.