Debussy: Nocturnes; Images; King Lear (incidental music)
LABELS: HMV Classics
WORKS: Nocturnes; Images; King Lear (incidental music)
PERFORMER: Ambrosian Chorus, LSO/André Previn, CBSO/Simon Rattle
CATALOGUE NO: HMV 5 73222 2 (available exclusively through HMV stores) Reissue (1990)
Billed as The Orchestral Masterpieces of Debussy and Ravel, this double disc has made some unfortunate exclusions in limiting the composers to one CD apiece. Jeux, considered by many Debussy’s greatest orchestral masterpiece, is absent, as is two-thirds of Images; and Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole is a regrettable casualty. Still, this enterprising rummage through the Philips cellar has turned up some wonderful performances. Paul Paray’s Iberia glitters undimmed 45 years on, and Monteux’s tender and touching Ma mère l’oye is a model of Ravel interpretation. None of the other performances falls short of excellence.
HMV’s foray into Debussy is also a great success, with André Previn’s Nocturnes full of subtle light and shade and Simon Rattle’s Images vivid and meticulous. A filler of two parts of King Lear perhaps suggests why Debussy left the work unfinished. More complete surveys of both composers are plentiful, those by Boulez and Haitink particularly outstanding. Christopher Wood