Debussy: Orchestral works

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Orchestral works
PERFORMER: Ulster Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 7019(4) Reissue (1989-93)
This set of Debussy’s orchestral works is, along with a similar set of Ravel’s orchestral works, one of the most enduring products of Yan Pascal Tortelier’s partnership with the Ulster Orchestra. The four generously filled discs contain performances that are full of colour and warmth and display a refreshing rhythmic zest. However, it should be noted at the outset that Tortelier faces very strong competition in the principal works from the Royal Concertgebouw under Bernard Haitink (Philips). Indeed, its performances of La mer, Jeux, the Nocturnes, Images and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune would individually rival all comers. Presented together on two discs they are unsurpassed. Nevertheless, it is in the less well-known works that ‘complete’ sets earn their stars and, in addition to better than average performances of the major works, Tortelier gives us alluring accounts of the Fantaisie for piano and the two Fantaisies for clarinet and saxophone respectively. There are also the works orchestrated by Debussy’s colleagues, usually at the composer’s request, or at least with his blessing. Christopher Dingle