Claude DEBUSSY (1862 - 1918)
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1892/1894) [9:05]
La Mer - Trois esquisses symphoniques (1903/1905) [21:48]
Jeux (Poème dansé) (1913) [17:06]
Khamma (orch. Charles Koechlin)(1912) [19:32]
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet
rec. Oct 1957, May 1958, Dec 1964 Victoria Hall, Geneva. ADD
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802043 [67:52]
Newton did not leave the Ansermet revival of 2010 to the admirable Australian Eloquence label. Newton seem to have persona grata status to pick and choose amongst the Philips-DG-Decca-Universal coffers.
Ansermet (1883-1969) is heard here in heartland territory and is flattered by superb Decca analogue close-up stereo. Listen to those triangle impacts at the end of the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. The vivid impact of the recording complements Ansermet's directness of utterance. There are moments, especially in De l'aube à midi sur la mer, where I can hear what enthused the producers of Horst Stein's classic OSR Sibelius sessions to travel, some decade later, to Victoria Hall, Geneva. Ansermet keeps things moving and favours a fast pulse where others lean towards languor. Every tissue wisp of sound is rendered with analytical address. It’s gorgeous - a well calculated balance between diaphanous clarity and translucent warmth. This can be heard even in the late afternoon chill of Dialogue du vent et de la mer.
Newton have paired two famous pieces with two comparative obscurities. Jeux is a fragile meandering bloom the premiere of which was destined to be eclipsed a fortnight later by Stravinsky's Rite. Khamma is a legend in dance and pagan death. It dates from 1924 and had to wait until 1947 before it was staged. It was orchestrated by Charles Koechlin. The invention is exotic and intriguing - not as smokily sensuous as Schmitt's Salomé or Antoine but in the same broad mood territory. Similar territory is covered by two 2-disc sets issued by Cyrus Meher-Homji’s wonderfully productive Eloquence label (read Bob Briggs’ review). Newton Classics will certainly appeal if all you need is a good single Ansermet-Debussy disc collection. They have done a truly stylish job all round.
Masterwork Index: La Mer
Gorgeous - a well calculated balance between diaphanous clarity and translucent warmth.