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9 Reviews
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3 star:    (0)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refined, subtle, and fluid - magical, 3 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
All of Debussy's generally acknowledged orchestral masterpieces are on these two CDS, along with a couple of short near-masterpieces. Penguin and Gramophone give the performances their highest possible accolades - rosette and gem - which raises my confidence in those two guidebooks. If anything deserves the highest honours it is these two CDs. These works demand subtle, refined and fluid playing, and that is what Haitink and the Concertgebouw deliver without compromise.

There are many demanding parts for soloists in these works, and the Concertgebouw soloists reveal themselves as some of the best in the business. The oboe is melancholy and disconsolate, the clarinets carousing and fluent, the trumpets raucous but musical. Haitink and the strings hold it all together with precision, delicacy, definition, and shimmering fluidity.

I find the four-star reviews overly critical, or at least too ready to drop a star. The shorter works are well worth listening to. Given that the CDs are crammed to the gunnels, they could have easily been left off. A star should be added for generosity!

The only criticism I can think of is the bland cover, a full-cover *actual* reproduction of Hokusai's "Hollow wave" might (just) do justice to the content - but that's nit picking. Never judge a CD by its cover...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely reliable coverage of Debussy's orchestral music in good sound, 7 Jan 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
These recordings from the 1970's make an ideal fundamental set of Debussy's orchestral output. Haitink as a conductor is always very reliable although some may find him a little lacking in the ultimate levels of excitement. However, far better to have good, honest and reliable musicianship than exciting but interpretively doubtful versions.

The four key works of La Mer, Nocturnes, Images and the Prelude are completely satisfying. These are oft-recorded works so it will always be possible to prefer other versions for particular aspects but not necessarily as a complete set as here. The short ballet, Jeux, has never become a repertoire ballet and without seeing the intended dance aspect the music struggles to hold a firm sense of direction. Other similar situations where ballets are performed in concert form such as Stravinsky's Rite, Firebird and Petrushka or Prokofiev's Romeo or Ravel's Daphnis for example succeed by virtue of a more obvious narration even in concert. Two harp dances and the clarinet Rapsodie are pleasant enough but could never be described as essential to most collections. In assessing this pair of discs it is probably best to see these less popular works as free bonuses.

I would suggest that this set could easily be a basic reference to which could be added particular favourite alternatives. Munch is generally more exciting but not so subtle for instance. Monteux made a good version of Images and Karajan's La Mer and Prelude is well respected. Other notable conductors in this repertoire would include Reiner, Stokowski, Barbirolli, Baudo, Giulini, Previn, and Rattle to name but a few. They all offer different and valuable insights but not convenient complete sets like this or are better overall either as performances or as recordings.

Bearing all of that in mind this double set seems to warrant very serious consideration indeed for both single set purchasers or collectors of alternative versions. It is well recorded and advantageously priced.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's Hear it for "Jeux", 15 July 2013
By 
Nobody "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
This set won so many awards for performance and recording quality well over thirty years ago. It is not so reassuring to know that this remains unsurpassed despite developments in sound engineering. There may be some recordings that are clearer now but this still holds up very well with Haitink and the Concertgebouw providing the best interpretations and performances available for all the major works. There are highlights, of course, with "La Mer" particularly successful and the "Nocturnes". I'd like, though to make a case for the work that many reviewers find the toughest and least welcoming; "Jeux".

Yes it is a tough nut but don't be fooled by the back story and Debussy's disapproval of the ballet scenario this is one of the most original scores of the Twentieth century that has gone on to influence the work of the avant-garde since. The music is comprised of twenty three sections that flow one to the next in a stream of consciousness like state. There are no themes to remember as the music is constantly shifting. In this way it is not unlike Schoenberg's "Erwartung" but tonally based and balletic. The constantly shifting textures and colour is brought to the fore in this performance and the dramatic climax is thoroughly convincing. If "La Mer" is viewed as an impressionistic symphony then "Jeux" is an "expressionist one" but with a nod towards the inevitable logic found in late Sibelius. "Jeux" is a masterpiece and well worth persisting with.

The rest is excellent too; you're in the safest hands possible. I've not mentioned the excellent recording here of "Images". The smaller works are hardly essential listening but who's complaining. This is an essential album at a bargain price.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection, 6 Feb 2007
By 
maximus (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
This is a fantastic collection of Debussy's orchestral works. Even years after they were recorded, they remain some of the best interpretations available on CD. Great performances, especially La Mer which is totally mesmerising. If you want to discover Debussy, start here, and also buy a set of some of his solo piano works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debussy Orchestral Music, 17 Aug 2013
By 
Alan J. (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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Wonderful playing, fabulous recording of some of the most beautiful orchestral works from the French Impressionist era. I was thrilled with everything on the set especially La Mer and the Prelude a l'apres midi. Bargain collection of some fantastic music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed, 17 July 2013
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This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
Choice of tempi, orchestra execution and recording are absolutely extraordinary. Not to be missed, evenafter all these years being on the market!
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good all-round introduction to the orchestral Debussy, 21 Oct 2006
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
This Twofer contains the groundbreaking and groundworking orchestral music of this most delicate of French composers. Huge forces, brilliantly handled. Prelude a l'Apres Midi d'un Faune is here, La Mer (of course), the colourful Images. An added attraction is Debussy's orchestral Nocturnes with the hauntingly beautiful Nuages as first movement. Other excellent bonuses are his melting Dances for Harp and Strings and his Rhapsody for clarinet and orchestra. The only bugbear is his music for the short ballet Jeux which somehow never seemed and still never seems to provide inspiration.

As for the performances. Well, you can hardly ever go wrong with Haitink: he rarely inspires but he is a solid performer. The recordings date back to the late 1970s, so do not expect crystal clear reproduction, but overall the sound quality is more than good.

Recommended for those who want to try an aural accompaniment to gazing at their Monets and Pisarros. Debussy evinces the same exquisite craftsmanship with both a broad sweep and amazing detail.
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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haitink Excels, 10 Feb 2009
By 
Mr. K. D. Barratt "A Massive BBC Proms Fan" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
BBC Music Magazine rightly rates this performance of La Mer as their top choice, and it is an excellent performance. In fact all the Haitink performances are great. I particularly like the Nocturnes and Images. There are also pieces, such as the Berceuse heroique and Marche ecossaise, that I have never heard before and will probably never play again. These have stopped me from awarding all 5 stars for what is otherwise an excellent collection.
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10 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Debussy, 10 Nov 2005
This review is from: Debussy: Orchestral Music (Audio CD)
A trip to mythological places. I love it every time I hear it.
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