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La Mer/Jeux/Khamma

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 19 2002)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Group
  • ASIN: B00005UW3U
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #348,510 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
2. La Mer
3. Jeux
4. Khamma

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x97baeeac) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97bb5150) out of 5 stars Classic Ansermet, and a "Legendary" La Mer March 7 2012
By R. Scharba - Published on
Format: Audio CD
These recordings all exhibit the even-tempered clarity one associates with Ansermet's recordings of Debussy. I wanted, in particular, to comment on the 1957 recording of "La Mer" in this collection, as I originally got to know and love it in its guise as a "London Stereo Treasury" LP. Its sound, in common with a great many London early stereo recordings, featured a harsh-sounding frequency spike in the low-treble range (ca. 2.5 kHz). I suspect these recordings were originally mixed this way to compensate for common shortcomings in inexpensive hi-fi speakers of the day, but come off with a harsh, steely-sounding edge on more modern sound gear.

I was quite anxious to hear this beloved recording again when it came out on CD, but its first release as a budget-priced "London Weekend" CD was marked AAD, and indeed exhibited the very same harsh, steely-sounding spike at around 2.5 kHz which was all-too-familiar from the old Stereo Treasury LP.

In this later incarnation, however, in Decca's "Legendary Performances" series, it has obviously been remixed from the master tapes with a much more realistic and well-balanced equalization curve, and the difference is very gratifying. You can still find used copies of the London Weekend CD, but this is the one to get for this great recording of La Mer, in my view. It's a pity that Decca has let it go out of print already, but it can still be found used, and as a CD-R at ArkivMusic. I think this 1957 recording has also been released in one of the Australian "Eloquence" CDs, but I've not heard that one yet.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97bb5480) out of 5 stars Classic performances from the source June 17 2015
By stevenrothbard - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ernest Ansermet was one of the great conductors of the Twentieth Century who knew many of the French and Russian composers whose music he did so well, and even though his Suisse Romande Orchestra was not one of the most brilliant ensembles, many of his recordings are classics everyone should own. This disc is certainly one of them, especially since it includes a very interesting rarity, Debussy's last work, the ballet "Khamma."
Arranged in chronological order of composition, the works on this disc give us a clear view of Debussy's transition from late Nineteeth Century to early Twentieth Century harmonic experimenter, from the open and sinuous sensuality of the Faun's Prelude, to the much thicker chromaticism of "Khamma." Going from " La Mer" to "Jeux", and then to" Khamma", Debussy's constant growth as a modernest is very clear; in fact, "Jeux" sounds like an advanced version of "La Mer," while "Khamma" goes beyond "Jeux," but the family resemblance is most striking. In addition, since almost every work here, except for "La Mer," has its basis in dance, the way each work progresses is close.
Decca has brilliantly remastered these recordings, which were already among the best of their time, in striking 24 bit sound which shows what a great conductor Ansermet was for balancing inner parts in such a natural way so that you may feel you've never heard this music before, which, in the case of "Khamma," may be true. An essential disc which belongs in every music collection.
HASH(0x97d1c558) out of 5 stars In summary this disc is an essential purchase for collectors without any need for compromise Feb. 10 2016
By I. Giles - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This set of Debussy was recorded in 1957-58 at the Victoria Hall, Geneva in Switzerland. This was a favourite venue for the Decca recording engineers as it had wonderful acoustics and even today, over 55 years later, this recording easily stands the test of time and is superior as an audio product. The Suisse Romande Orchestra did not always have a reputation for infallible technical security but on this occasion they prove to be more than capable of inspirational playing of complete security.

Ernest Ansermet, their founding and chief conductor for 50 years, was noted for his devotion to the printed notes in the musical scores that he conducted. He was opposed to anything that was added by interpreters in the form of false emotional overlays preferring to concentrate on structural clarity and directness of expression.

That approach perfectly suits all of these works resulting in music-making strong in sparkle and verve on the one hand and illuminating on the other by making clear so many details that are so frequently lost in the lushness of other performances.

A strong sense of internal and forward motion is apparent in all three works. This is achieved by observation of countless internal details as referred to above. As with any other lifetime collector of recordings one gets to become familiar with a considerable number of fine alternatives and knows what to expect and what to appreciate. It therefore comes as quite a shock to find a recording, and especially one of this vintage, that has escaped previous notice and one that still has so much more to add to one’s awareness. That is the measure of Ansermet’s achievement in La Mer.

Direct comparisons are not so easy to make in Jeux and, even more, in Khamma due to their relative rarity. These are both late ballet scores. Khamma (2010) was conceived as a work for piano. For reasons that are unknown Debussy handed the task of orchestrating it to his assistant, Charles Koechin. This task was accompanied by 100 pages of detailed instruction and personal supervision though and listeners would find it hard to tell that the result was not entirely the work of Debussy. Jeux (2013) was entirely completed by the composer.

In both of these works these two recordings have a great sense of organic, and therefore balletic, movement, more so than other recordings such as those of Jeux by Haitink or Rattle for example. This is brought about by clearer textures that enable the rhythmic elements to make their effect more clearly. Bearing in mind the dance intentions of the two pieces, one must conclude that Ansermet is far closer to the composer’s intent.

The remastered recordings in this ‘Legends’ at 96kHz 24-bit are remarkable and are more than a match for later recordings. They have a totally natural sense of acoustic and sonic depth and width. Textures are authentic. The orchestra is on top form and no-one need hesitate on technical grounds. On musical grounds this is a disc that collectors ought to snap up while copies remain.

In summary this disc is an essential purchase for collectors without any need for compromise