DEBUSSY: Nocturnes. Prelude
to the Afternoon of a Faun.
Clair de Lune. IbČria (No. 2 from Images).
Here is a convenient coupling of all of Stokowski's Debussy recordings for EMI/Capitol. It opens with the sixth of his eight (!) recordings of Faun made over a span of almost a half-century. The first was in 1924 with the Philadelphia Orchestra with which he also recorded it in 1927 and apparently twice in 1940a previously unpublished 1940 recording of March 27,1940 can be heard on Biddulph (WHL 013). Stokowski's last recording was in 1972 with the London Symphony for London/Decca. This music always was one of his specialties and on this CD Stokowski's sensuous interpretation can be heard in his first stereo recording. "Total collectors" of Stoki's Faun also must have the superlative performance recorded live in July 1951 with the Concertgebouw unfortunately available only in a 6-CD commemorative set on Globa (GLO 6905).
Clair de Lune is another work he would record often. His first was in 1937 in Philadelphia, the second in 1947 with a pickup orchestra for RCA. This EMI recording was made in 1957, his third of the work and the first in stereo; he would record it for Sony/CBS with the National Philharmonic in 1976, the year before his death. He had recorded excerpts from Nocturnes as early as 1927, when in Philadelphia he recorded FÍtes, making his first complete recording in 1950 with a pickup orchestra, for RCA. This EMI performance with the London Symphony was recorded in 1957.
IbČria, recorded in 1958 is his only commercial recording of this music. The center section, "Perfumes of the Night," has never before sounded as voluptuous. It is obvious that Stokowski had a hand in mixing all of these recordings; the Stokowski "sound" is ever apparent, with rich sonorities and textures always associated with this conductor. At mid-price, this is a major addition to EMI''s distinguished FDS series of reissues.
R.E.B. (Nov. 2000)