- Audio CD (Jan. 19 1994)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: Universal Music Group
- ASIN: B00000417P
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,410 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. Berceuse heroique|
|2. Images: Gigues|
|3. Images: Iberia: Par les rues et par les chemins|
|4. Images: Iberia: Les perfums de la nuit|
|5. Images: Iberia: Le matin d'un jour fe fete|
|6. Images: Rondes de printemps|
|7. Jeux: Poeme Danse|
|8. Marche ecossaise|
|1. Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune|
|2. Nocturnes: Nuages|
|3. Nocturnes: Fetes|
|4. Nocturnes: Sirenes|
|5. La Mer: De l'aube a midi sur la mer|
|6. La Mer: Jeux de vagues|
|7. La Mer: Dialogue du vent et de la mer|
|8. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra|
|9. Dances For Harp And Strings: Danse sacree|
|10. Dances For Harp And Strings: Danse profane|
Some say the orchestra was in its glory days under Haitink. I don't quite agree, having heard them do marvelous work under Chailly and others, but in any case, they were playing at their absolute finest here. The shimmering effects actually *sound* that way, and if you've ever heard an orchestra play Debussy badly, you'll know what I mean. The ensemble's renowned woodwind section sounds glorious, and Debussy gives them many, many opportunities to show off.
Dating from the 1970's, these recordings are excellent, and you might not even think about this issue because the sound quality is so superb. Occasionally a very marginal amount of tape hiss can be discerned -- but now we are truly splitting hairs, since these pieces were recorded in the late days of the analogue era.
Like Haitink's Bartok set with the same orchestra (also two discs), this is fairly essential for those who love the composer. And with its reasonable price, this is not only an essential Debussy recording but a bargain as well.
I remember snatching up the original Philips LP's of these Haitink performances when they emerged in the late 70's, and being "wowed" then. Yes, Haitink was not, and is not, a ZIP! ZING! POW! conductor. And, outside of a few moments in "Iberia," "La Mer," or "Jeux," you really don't want any of that in these pieces. Sensitivity to dynamics, orchestral color, and evocative phrasing, just to name a few musical virtues...these are what are called for here, and Haitink offers them in spades. That gossamer shimmer in "Nocturnes", for example. It's so easy to sell the imagery short, or just get it plain wrong. Haitink nails it, aided througout by vintage Philips sound that was a model of naturalness in its day, and still holds up nicely.
Could "La Mer" take just a bit more shaping in its ebb/flow moments? Maybe. Karajan managed that in his early 60s version for DG, but his orchestral seas are clearly the North Atlantic, not the Mediterranean. So, there's room for preferences. I still prefer Boulez' old CBS/Sony performance with the New Philharmonia, except for the bone-dry recording. Fritz Reiner and the Chicago, as well as the Munch/Boston reading, really shine in RCA's Living Stereo remasterings. These are just a few of the classic readings that I wouldn't want to be without.
In sum, I wouldn't want to be without Haintink's thoughts on these scores, as well as the late 50's Van Beinum "Berceuse" that fills out the set. If you're REALLY serious about the music, though, fill out your Debussy shelf with a few of the others.Read more ›