LABELS: EMI France
Recent reissues have much to offer the inquiring connoisseur, the lover of vintage performances, the budget-minded library-builder and the newcomer to classical music – though their presentation doesn’t always seem to match their content in serving one or another of these segments of the market.
EMI France is clearly hoping to appeal to the connoisseur with a couple of recent sets of French music, presented in solid, old-fashioned three-disc boxes.
PIERRE DERVAUX conducts orchestral music by d’Indy, Pierné and Rabaud, including several works otherwise missing from the current catalogue (CZS 5 74136 2): the Pays de Loire Philharmonic is not quite a front-rank band, but the Seventies recordings are clear and spacious, and the performances appealing.
MÉLODIES FRANÇAISES features the soprano Mady Mesplé in songs by Hahn, Poulenc, Satie, the young Debussy, Fauré and Roussel (CZS 5 74140 2): she can be very touching and very funny, but there are worrying moments of unsteadiness.
Both sets have useful introductory essays, but the song texts are in French only.
Three solo piano sets from the same source are presumably aimed more at the library-builder. Michel Béroff presents DEBUSSY convincingly as a figure of flesh and blood rather than airy impressions, but as recorded seems to lack many nuances at mezzo-forte and above (CZS 5 74122 2).
Alexis Weissenberg’s BACH is plain and unstylish, and an extraneous bar disfigures the start of the finale of the Italian Concerto (CZS 5 74144 2).
Much more recommendable is Mikhail Rudy’s set of BRAHMS variations and shorter pieces, mixing strength and sweetness in ideal proportions, and finding a special sound-world for the works from Brahms’s later years (CZS 5 73790 2).