Mer. Premi╦re rapsodie.
Clair de lune (Caplet). Deux arabesques (Mouton). La cathedral engloutie (Stokowski). Petite
suite (BŘsser); Pagodes (Grainger).
James Campbell, clarinet; Philharmonia Orch; Geoffrey Simon, cond.
CALA CACD 1001 (M) (DDD) TT: 70:07
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DEBUSSY: Nocturnes. L'isle
La soir╚e dans Grenade (Stokowski). Danse - tarantelle
styrienne (Ravel). La fille aux cheveux de lin (Gleichmann).
Bruy╦res (Grainger). Children's Corner (Caplet).
Both of these CDs were issued more than a decade ago and are still, fortunately, in the catalog even though unlisted in the last Schwann/Opus. They contain fine performances of some Debussy standards (La Mer, First Rhapsody, Nocturnes), but the primary interest is in the other works, some of which were at the time first recordings and remain so. Percy Grainger's orchestrations of Bruy╦res ("heathers" or "heathlands") and Pagodes ("pagodas") are especially fascinating, the former scored for seven woodwinds, horn, alto saxophone and harmonium, the latter for percussion. Pagodes, inspired by a gamelan orchestra performance Debussy heard in 1889, originally was written for piano; it is heard here in Grainger's imaginative arrangement for 13 percussionists, harmonium, celesta, dulcitone and four pianos.
The other works, in orchestrations by Andre Caplet, H. Mouton, William L. Gleichmann and the more famous Leopold Stokowski (La cathedrale engloutie) are worthy as well, all given superlative performances by Geoffrey Simon and his fine orchestra. It's unfortunate other commercially unrecorded Debussy transcriptions have yet to be recorded: Hans Henkemans arrangements of Book I of the Preludes were issued on a Radio Nederland transcription in superlative performances by the Concertgebouw under Bernard Haitink; there also is a radio recording of five of the preludes arranged by Hans Zender, with Zoltßn Kocsis and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. All of these are exquisite elaborations of Debussy's originals and deserve commercial recordings. In the meantime, both of these Cala CDs are highly recommended for the treasures they contain.
R.E.B. (September 2002)