Of the compilations released to mark the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy's birth this year, this is the most treasurable. As a survey of the music of perhaps of the greatest 20th-century composer it could hardly be bettered, especially within recordings from a single label, or rather, a single group of labels, for as well as Deutsche Grammophon recordings it also includes material from Philips and Decca, which are all now part of the Universal stable.
Taken from the best Debussy cycle to appear in the CD era, these repackagings gather the items that one-disc-at-a-time buyers tend to miss. Playing combines flair, care, and great musical enjoyment. High points include the superb Anne Queffélec as solo pianist in the Fantaisie and some rare items: the Rapsodie for alto sax, the whimsical orchestration of La plus que lente featuring cimbalom, and piano pieces scored by other hands. The Ulster Hall acoustic is spacious but clear.
Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.
The 1st & final movements of Brahms’s 3rd Symphony contain some of the most dramatic music he was to compose, yet both end serenely & enclose 2 beautiful inner movements. The equally exquisite Serenade No 2, unusually scored for wind instruments, violas, cellos & double basses, was 1 of his own personal favourites & both receive superb performances under Bernard Haitink in the 3rd part of his internationally acclaimed LSO Live Brahms cycle.
Loaded with German Romanticism & including variations on a Bach cantata, Brahms’ final symphony is a remarkable example of his mastery of symphonic composition. A rich, warm work that builds on a sense of movement & intensity right up to the final bars. This release also represents the completion of Bernard Haitink’s celebrated LSO Live Brahms cycle that has included the symphonies, Double Concerto, Tragic Overture & Serenade No 2.
Bernard Haitink & London Symphony Orchestra started their Bruckner cycle with this album. Haitink’s previous releases on LSO Live (Beethoven: Complete Symphonies & Triple Concerto & Strauss: Ein Alpensinfonie) are very good, & now he continues this line. Bernard Haitink is internationally renowned for his interpretations of Bruckner and is widely recognised as the world’s leading Bruckner conductor.