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Debussy: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Martinon, Ortf Orchestra


Release Date: 11/21/2006 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 65235   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alain MarionFabienne Boury-FournierMichel Sedrez
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National OrchestraORTF Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 24 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I’m never quite sure what goes through record companies’ minds when they lease or license material but EMI has clearly seen good sense in reissuing these recordings very soon after licensing them to Brilliant Classics, who issued them in a four CD boxed set (Brilliant Classics 92765). EMI had itself issued a big eight CD set of Debussy and Ravel – four discs to each composer – on CZS 5755262. The recycling and leasing of material at least goes to show one indisputable fact. Whereas not every recording here is going to be the moist imaginatively played or the most evocatively nuanced, they have all stood the test of time and the accountants’ scythe. Recorded over thirty years ago they have proved durable and important recordings, fully Read more worthy of a rejigging in EMI’s Gemini series.

The new format is two twofers. The first starts as it means to go on, with a no-nonsense La Mer. Martinon had at his command a notoriously recalcitrant orchestral beast in the shape of the Orchestre National de l’ORTF but it’s a measure of his convincing control that they play so consistently well for him. He encourages from them a clarity, a distinct "separation of the powers" when it comes to sectional discipline – no lazy bleaching of sonorities - and very little overtly gaudy expression. In pianistic terms his approach reminds me of George Copeland, not Walter Gieseking; if the orchestra was a piano its feet would be off the pedal. It means of course that there’s ultimately a want of sheer sheen and colour but to compensate there’s no rhythmic flaccidity. Everything keeps moving nicely. But Martinon certainly encourages some vivid wind playing in the Jeux de vagues; this is a bracing, forward-moving La Mer.

The Trois Nocturnes feature something of a reprise – attractively and athletically lean sonorities conjoined with a decisive sense of tempo relationships. It’s undoubtedly the case that many will miss say, Ormandy’s sense of glamour and vitality – his evocative surface painting –in Fêtes. And if one is objective Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune will stand more as a corrective to overtly romanticised languor rather than as a necessarily recommendable recording in its own right. There’s little of Beecham’s famously erotic glamour.

But one of Martinon’s greatest strengths in this repertoire was the immediate establishment of a firm rhythm. This is coupled with real atmosphere in Jeux. One senses however that in Images Martinon is not given quite the free rein he seeks, that he is hindered by an orchestra that can’t quite give him the free spiritedness he is asking for – especially in Iberia. Still there is vitality – and a nice big fat trumpet – in Par les rues et par les chemins. If criticisms need to be established about this cycle they will centre on a lack of explicit string tone and weight in these readings. For all the intimacy of Les parfums de la nuit the strings lack the last ounce of evocative lusciousness that they ideally need here. I should add as a rider that Martinon would doubtless argue that this is not quite what he wanted.

If you seek swathes of colour and outsize personality in your Debussy you may find that Martinon under-characterises. If however you are satisfied with performances that are lucid, imaginative, thoughtful and unselfconscious then you will be very happy with Martinon. He has a special understanding of this – and allied – repertoire and his clarity and care in balance and dynamics are merely two of his great virtues in Debussy conducting. That’s why these performances exist in multiple competing editions – and long may they continue to do so.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
La mer by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
2.
Nocturnes (3) for Orchestra by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  ORTF Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897-1899; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
3.
Images for Orchestra by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1912; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
4.
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alain Marion (Flute)
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974)
Composition written: France (1892 - 1894). 
5.
Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1891; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
6.
Berceuse heroïque by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
7.
Le roi Lear by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
8.
Jeux by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 
9.
Printemps by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Fabienne Boury-Fournier (Piano), Michel Sedrez (Piano)
Conductor:  Jean Martinon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1887; France 
Venue:  Salle Wagram, Paris, France 
Notes: Orchestrated: Henri Büsser
Salle Wagram, Paris, France (1973 - 1974) 

Sound Samples

La Mer (1998 Digital Remaster): I. De l'aube à midi sur la mer
La Mer (1998 Digital Remaster): II. Jeux de vagues
La Mer (1998 Digital Remaster): III. Dialogue du vent et de la mer
Trois Nocturnes (1998 Digital Remaster): I. Nuages
Trois Nocturnes (1998 Digital Remaster): II. Fêtes
Trois Nocturnes (1998 Digital Remaster): III. Sirènes (with women's choir)
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1998 Digital Remaster): Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Marche écossaise (1998 Digital Remaster): Marche écossaise
Berceuse héroïque (1998 Digital Remaster): Berceuse héroïque
Musiques pour Le Roi Lear (1998 Digital Remaster): I. Fanfare
Musiques pour Le Roi Lear (1998 Digital Remaster): II. Le Sommeil de Lear
Jeux (Poème dansé) (1998 Digital Remaster): Jeux (Poème dansé)
Images (1998 Digital Remaster): I: Gigues
Images (1998 Digital Remaster), II: Ibéria: a) Par les rues et par les chemins
Images (1998 Digital Remaster), II: Ibéria: b) Les parfums de la nuit
Images (1998 Digital Remaster), II: Ibéria: c) Le matin d'un jour de fête
Images (1998 Digital Remaster): III: Rondes de printemps
Printemps (Suite symphonique, orch. Henri Büsser) (1998 Digital Remaster): 1ère Partie
Printemps (Suite symphonique, orch. Henri Büsser) (1998 Digital Remaster): 2ème Partie

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