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

and more.. and still writing ...


Search MusicWeb Here


Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer

International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


Debussy Strauss HDTT2976

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
La mer (1905)
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Don Juan, Op. 20c (1888)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
rec. 1960 (Strauss), 1961 (Debussy)

These are famous recordings of remarkable depth and clarity for their era. I say “for their era” yet in HDTT’s remastering from the original tapes they come up with such freshness that apart from the faintest suggestion of hiss – more ambient noise than anything – they are comparable with anything digital. Sometimes something magical occurs in the recording studio and this was one of those occasions; Reiner declared La mer to be “perfect” and had to be persuaded to correct just one horn blip; otherwise, this was the one and only take. I have seen elsewhere a mild reservation regarding a lack of “Mediterranean warmth” about it, but given that a) Debussy did not specify which sea(s) he was evoking and at different times in his life spent time near both the Med and the Atlantic - indeed, it was composed while he was staying in a hotel in Eastbourne, on the English coast - and b) to my ear there is nothing very Mediterranean about this sound picture - if anything, it is more redolent of grander, wilder, more “oceanic” vistas - I cannot see that as a flaw. It is true that the very clarity of the recording and the playing of the CSO is almost startling but every detail of Debussy’s miraculous orchestration emerges thereby. Every soloist sound like a virtuoso and the variety of timbres and colours from the instrumentalists is remarkable.

Reiner takes the first movement, “De L'aube Ó midi sur la mer” (From dawn till noon on the sea), slower than most interpreters but at no point does it drag. It is the most reflective and dreamily atmospheric of the three sections and Reiner follows the composer’s instructions by building it slowly. “Jeu de vagues” (Play of the waves) is positively coruscating and as light as thistledown, while the finale “Dialogue du vent et de la mer” (Dialogue between the wind and the waves) makes a suitably tumultuous conclusion, with the celebrated Chicago brass running riot.

This does not necessarily eclipse other famous versions – I still want to hear Karajan’s gloriously sonorous, somewhat loftier, mistier account and won’t be jettisoning Giulini’s elegant, patrician version with the Philharmonia – but it is as fine as any other I know.

The same is true of this Don Juan, which was made in much better sound than his first recording in 1954. The depth of the bass sound is especially striking but he balancing of all the registers is ideal, once again showing of virtuosity of the orchestra. Reiner’s contrasting tempi for the initial bravura section and the ensuing love music are daringly extreme but he keeps it together; only Karajan generates the same combination of swashbuckling Úlan and romantic ardour. The beauty of the woodwind solos constantly beguiles the ear and the monitory horns could not be more sonorous and homogeneous.

I made comparison with the Don Juan in my Sony box-set of Reiner’s collected Strauss, and satisfactory as that is, this HDTT transfer has the edge.

Ralph Moore

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

August 2022

Louis Caix d'Hervelois

orchestral songs



String Quartets

la folia



July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I