One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Clair de Lune
Full track listing below review
Natalie Dessay (soprano)
Philippe Cassard (piano)
rec. Salle Colonne, Paris, November 2011
VIRGIN CLASSICS 7307682 [72:58]

Experience Classicsonline

I came to this disc with high expectations, having experienced first-hand how compelling a presence Natalie Dessay can be in the opera house. In the event, however, I found this Debussy recital rather problematic and somewhat less winning than I was hoping for. It contains a lot of songs that the young Debussy wrote for his mistress, the much older - and married - Marie-Blanche Vasnier. Hers was a high voice so the songs contain a lot of top-lying tessitura. You might think that this was right up Dessay’s street, and on the disc her voice sounds light and glimmering. However, right from the very first song she sounds pushed at the top and uncomfortably strained in some of the climaxes, a very unwelcome development for her voice. The first song should be perfect for her, the voice gleaming as brightly as the starry night she sings about, but the climax sounds uncomfortable and even a little raw. This flaw reappears consistently throughout, and I even found myself feeling nervous about the next high climax, thus ruining that sense of the allure so essential to this music. To be fair, it’s not as though this mars ever moment, but it’s consistent enough to damage my enjoyment of the disc as a whole. La Damoiselle élue is a case in point: it contains nearly 19 minutes of extremely beautiful music, offset wonderfully by the exceptionally skilful sound of La Jeune Choeur de Paris, but the climax on the word “ensemble” just misses the target. Now every time I listen to it that moment dominates my perception of the piece and gnaws away at my pleasure in the whole. The same disproportionate effect is felt elsewhere. Dessay has the vocal equipment to encompass Ariel’s fairy pyrotechnics in La Romance d’Ariel, but she lacks the sensuality in the top register to make the high coloratura truly alluring. Regret, too, a lovely song, is wrecked by an almost strident tone above the stave and she isn’t at home in the nonsense songs where the coloratura makes her voice sound brittle and vulnerable.
There are good things elsewhere, admittedly. The composer is at his best when he inhabits the world of half-light and whispered suggestion. Apparition and En sourdine are fantastically sensuous with extraordinary piano playing from Philippe Cassard, who seems almost to stroke the notes into being, caressing each phrase with longing. Romance also has a lovely sense of treading the line between restfulness and unfulfilled longing. The exoticism of the Rondel chinois is beautiful in its suggestions of the east, pointed wonderfully by the exotic yet understated colouring of the harp. Keen Debussians will be particularly interested in the juvenile songs which here receive their world premiere recordings. Le Matelot qui tombe à l’eau is Debussy’s shortest song while Les elves is his longest, and the others suggest the sense of longing and suggestion that would permeate his later masterpieces. I couldn’t shake the feeling, however, that Dessay was the wrong interpreter for these. Debussy’s sound-world works through seduction, but the strain on top meant that I couldn’t relax into this set and I ended it feeling thoroughly unseduced. A partial success at best.
Simon Thompson

Full track listing
Nuit d'étoiles [3:02]
Pantomime [2:26]
Claire de lune [2:26]
Pierrot [1:47]
Apparition [3:14]
En sourdine [2:38]
Fête galante [1:57]
Romance (L'ame évaporée) [1:49]
Les cloches [1:42]
Rondel chinois [3:07]
Flots, palmes, sables [4:49]
La romance d'Ariel [4:25]
Regret [2:33]
Le matelot qui tombe à l'eau [1:14]
Coquetterie posthume [3:38]
L'archet [2:54]
Romance [1:41]
Les elfes [7:14]
La damoiselle élue [18:41]


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

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.