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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding double album, 12 Mar 2010
By 
D. Haslam (Lancs.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: French Chamber Music for Woodwinds, Vol.1:Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-SaŽns (Audio CD)
I nearly didn't obtain this set as it wasn't available from Amazon except via the Marketplace, and those offered were at inflated prices. However by perseverance I found it available new directly from Cala Records and at a good price. This music is all lightish, and very pleasing from start to finish. The soloists are all top class, as is the recording, and I can thoroughly recommend that you track down this set. Also available is Volume Two, another double album featuring the same artists but this time showcasing music by Ravel and Poulenc, and in the expectation of it matching the quality of the first volume I will soon be putting in my order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chalk and Cheese, 21 July 2013
By 
Andrew C. Mitchell (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: French Chamber Music for Woodwinds, Vol.1:Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-SaŽns (Audio CD)
It is possible to like both Debussy and Saint-Saens,- who did not like each other. Great woodwind recordings!
Debussy - Premiere Rapsodie and Petite Piece for clarinet, Syrinx for flute, Sonata for flute,viola and harp, le Petit Negre for wind ensemble and piano, and Rapsodie for cor anglais, and Rapsodie for saxophone.
It is amazing to discover that the Rapsodie for cor anglais and the Rapsodie for saxophone are the same piece of music arranged for each instrument's individual colour. The music took ten years to evolve. The cor anglais account is a world premiere with Nicholas Daniel and Julius Drake(piano). The Rapsodie has Moorish aspects of Spanish culture including habanera rhythms. There is an aspect of night. I love both versions. The Premiere Rapsodie for clarinet was completed in 1910. There is a tinge of melancholy to the music. it is beautifully played by James Campbell and John York(piano). The Petite Piece is a substantial miniature. Le Petit Negre is a delightful cakewalk-style piece of fun for flute,oboe, clarinet, bassoon and piano. Syrinx(flute) played by William Bennett with long flowing strands of melody. Finally, the Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp on which Debussy had laboured before the ravages of cancer got him. This is beautifully handled by William Bennett, Roger Tapping and Ieuan Jones.
Saint-Saens - comparatively early works - Tarantelle, and Romance in D flat, from middle years - Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano, and Feuillet d'album for a windband. And then, works from his eighties, - Odelette for flute and piano and the great Sonata for Oboe op.166, Sonata for Clarinet op.167, and lastly Sonata for Bassoon op.168.
The Tarantelle and the Romance reveal the sunny side of Saint-Saens personality. This is further observable in the Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs and the Feuillet d'album. In Odelette there is graceful and stylish phrasing for both flute and piano and Saint-Saens habitual clarity of thought has not deserted him. More chamber concerts should contain the sonatas of his final year of life. Julius Drake plays piano for the oboe and bassoon and John York plays piano for the clarinet. What tremendous piano parts Saint-Saens was still writing for himself, even though facing difficulties with his left hand! I particularly like the second movement of the oboe sonata with it semi-improvisatory ad libitum start and finish, and the virtuoso aspects of the final movement. The clarinet sonata has four movements. The third movement is slow, stark, harsh (perhaps Saint-Saens facing mortality) much in the low chalumeau register of the instrument. The strength of the playing by James Campbell(clarinet) is immense. And lastly the lovely treatment of the tones of the bassoon with Rachel Gough giving a wonderfully intelligent performance of this masterwork. I can wholeheartedly commend both Debussy and Saint-Saens.
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