Debussy: Images • Et La Lune Descend Sur Le Temple Qui Fut • Prelude A L'Apres-midi d'un Faune
The Hallé and Sir Mark Elder follow their recent highly acclaimed Debussy Nocturnes album, with a stunning orchestral collection including a world premiere recording.
The album features a world premiere recording of Colin Matthew’s orchestration of Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut, from the 2nd Book of Images for piano. This arrangement follows Matthews’ universally acclaimed orchestrations of the Debussy Préludes and of Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon featured in the recent Nocturnes release.
Elder’s empathy for Debussy, the Hallé’s fine playing and an excellent recording make this a disc to treasure. RECOMENDED
The playing of this orchestra seems to get better with each succeeding CD, something evident from the very beginning of Images. (Just to clarify – these orchestral Images are a completely separate entity from the two sets of Images for piano. That can cause some confusion, as can the fact that the middle one of these three Images – Ibéria - is itself sub-divided into three separate sections.) The first movement, Gigues, with its curious reference to the English folk-song The Keel Row, is a magical opening to the disc. A flute softly hints at the folk-song, against a typically misty background. Then Debussy brings in a keening melody played by the oboe d’amore. This is essentially a Baroque instrument, much loved by Bach, though this is the only time Debussy used it. Why? Well, pitch-wise, the d’amore is between the oboe and the cor anglais. I wonder if one of the oboists in the orchestra who gave the premiere (the Orchestre Colonne) possessed such an instrument and played it to Debussy? It’s possible, and there’s no question that its plaintive tone is perfect – throatier than the oboe, yet not as rich as the cor anglais. The whole of Gigues is a delight, and it is played superbly here.