Debussy: Printemps (orch. Büsser); La boîte à joujoux (orch. Caplet); Children’s Corner (orch. Caplet); La plus que lente (orch. Debussy)

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COMPOSERS: Debussy
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Printemps (orch. Büsser); La boîte à joujoux (orch. Caplet); Children’s Corner (orch. Caplet); La plus que lente (orch. Debussy)
PERFORMER: Montreal SO/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 444 386-2 DDD
As Calum MacDonald points out in his excellent note, Debussy, an acknowledged master of the orchestra, was not averse to co-opting assistance in preparing orchestral scores if time pressed or his interest waned. Hence this attractive compilation, in which his originals are (mainly) dressed up by other hands.

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Debussy composed the early post-Massenet suite Printemps, for example, during his student period in Rome in 1887. The full score was later lost, so Henri Büsser prepared its replacement under Debussy’s supervision in 1912, by which time the composer’s style had changed considerably. André Caplet, another regular collaborator, worked on the orchestration of Children’s Corner and (after the composer’s death) on that of the rather forgettable toybox ballet Le boîte à joujoux, which the composer dropped in 1914.

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The odd man out, the orchestral version of Debussy’s affectionate satire on Parisian waltz fashions of 1910, La plus que lente, is Claude’s inimitable own, cimbalom and all. Each orchestration shows a skilled hand at work, and they are played here with virtuosity and style. The sound is unimpeachable. George Hall