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Cat. No. CHSA 5102(2) Price: £23 No. of discs: 2
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CHSA 5102 - Stephane Deneve conducts Debussy
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Available From: 15 April 2012
Stephane Deneve conducts Debussy

Recognised internationally as a conductor of the highest calibre, Stéphane Denève took up the post of Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2005, and has since attracted attention from audiences and critics alike. This May, the conductor bids a fond farewell to Scotland and the RSNO with a series of ‘Au Revoir’ concerts, and of course, this disc of orchestral works by Debussy.
 After the impact made by the production of Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902, the next orchestral work by Debussy was awaited with intense interest. La Mer did not disappoint, and is today widely considered to have been crucial in its influence on twentieth-century music. After completing this work, Debussy spent no fewer than seven years wrestling with what were to become Images for orchestra. Some critics were puzzled by the work and suggested that Debussy’s talent might have dried out. They were promptly put right in an article by Ravel, who accused them of ‘slowly closing their eyelids before the rising sun amid loud protestations that night is falling’.
 With a sultry flute solo, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune opened an astonishing new world for western music. Debussy based this composition on a poem by Mallarmé, who wrote to the composer: ‘I have come from the concert, deeply moved: A miracle! that your illustration of L’Après-midi d’un faune should present no dissonance with my text, other than to venture further, truly, into nostalgia and light…’
 The three Nocturnes feature some of Debussy’s most imaginative orchestral writing. In the words of the composer, ‘the title Nocturnes is… not meant to designate the usual form of a nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word would suggest’. Debussy provided descriptions of the three movements. ‘Nuages’, for example, depicts ‘the slow, melancholy procession of the clouds, ending in a grey agony tinged with white’, and also the experience of standing ‘on the Pont de Solférino very late at night. Total silence. The Seine without a ripple, like a tarnished mirror’.

Reviews

                  Diapason D’or de l’Année
 
Diapason Magazine - 2012

 "... I must say, I find Denève’s set completely addictive.... It doesn’t get much better than this."
Steven Kruger - Fanfare - November/December - Fanfare - November/December 2012

                 Album Choice
Christopher Breunig - HiFi News 2012 Year book

                           **** - Good
Pierre-Jean Tribot - Pizzicato magazine - September 2012

 

"...It seems that the muse magically landed at these sessions, for they were certainly blessed, and Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall seems to have an equally hallowed acoustic.
It’s been no hardship to listen to these discs right through, and to return to them - for these wonderful performances, gloriously captured, of music of infinate variety, confirm the genius of Achille-Claude Debussy."
Colin Anderson -  The Classical Source.com - 1 September 2012


          Gramophone Choice
“...During his seven concert seasons in Scotland he [Denève] has instilled in the RSNO an idiomatic sound and attitude for the French repertoire, as is strikingly evident from this two-CD set of Debussy... There is nothing vague about these performances; rather they convey both the dynamism and delicacy of the music with understanding and stimulating freshness...”
Geoffrey Norris – Gramophone magazine – August 2012


                          Recording of the Month
"...Throughout the set Denève and his team get help from the tremendous quality of the recorded sound, captured with outstanding clarity by Brian Pidgeon and his Chandos engineers, and giving a real sense of space to the sound, allowing each instrument to be picked out and enjoyed in its own right, as well as relishing its contribution to the whole. This sets the seal on an outstanding release, a praiseworthy contribution to the Debussy anniversary year, and a memento of what has become one of the most distinguished musical partnerships of recent years. Invest with confidence."
 
Simon Thompson - MusicWeb-International.com - 27 July 2012

“...the excellence of the playing of the Scottish orchestra and the splendid Chandos SACD engineering makes this two-disc collection a highly desirable memento of Denéve’s tenure.”
Mark Pullinger – International Record Review – July/August 2012

       ****    Excellent
“...an exciting album.”
Franck Mallet – Classica magazine – July/August 2012

           Performance *****      Recording *****
“...These are especially sensuous accounts, luxuriating in not only Debussy’s wondrous orchestral colours, but also his love of sound itself... What makes this set notable is the sense of a coherent vision lighting the music from within, a partnership of conductor and orchestra working intensively to make the whole more than the sum of the parts. Praise should be heaped on Chandos for maintaining its commitment both to fulsome, eloquent booklet notes and to SACD... for a set with essentially all of the completed purely orchestral pieces, including a couple of rarities, this is heard to beat.”
Christopher Dingle – BBC Music magazine – August 2012

                    CD of the Week
"...All are performed with finesse and with a combination of energy, discretion and colour that give them a luminous quality."  ****
Geoffrey Norris - The Telegraph - 23 June 2012

                    Recording of the Month
"Sumptuous sonic bathing: thrillingly superb."
Dominy Clements - Music.web-International.com - 25 June 2012

“...Deneve believes that Debussy, should be played not as a blur, as of Monet, but with clarity and this superbly recorded set brings this out admirably...”
Peter Spaull – Liverpool Daily Post – 7 June 2012
 

“... These are among the most seductive Debussy performances I have heard in years.” ****
Andrew Clark – The Financial Times – 9 June 2012

            CD of the Week
“... The RSNO’s playing has moved up a notch under his baton, with luscious string sounds an superb wind soloists. Even that symphonic warhorse La Mer sound freshly reimagined by the young Frenchman, whose sense of the music’s ebb and flow, with surging climaxes, is unerring.  On this two disc-set – an ideal way to aquire Debussy’s orchestral masterpieces – even the makeweights are compelling and the rare Marche Ecossaise is an apt souvenir of Denève’s Scottish sojourn.”
Hugh Canning – The Sunday Times – 3 June 2012


                Album Choice
“...this is a marvellous compendium, with performances to equal the classic Debussy recordings ...”
Christopher Breunig – HiFi News – August 2012


              Performance  *****      Sound *****
“...The superb playing of the RSNO throughout this set is indicative of the affection and respect and respect with which these musicians hold Stéphan Denève, and this outstanding release is a fitting testimony to the completion of this conductor’s impressive tenure with the RSNO.”

Castor – SA-CD.net – 30 April 2012

“...In each of these performances the RSNO, keenly responsive to Denève after his seven seasons as chief conductor, confirm the absolute precision, transparency and in Jeux as much as anywhere – passion required for these scores. The detail in Images is exquisite (with lovely oboe d’amore solo by Katherine Mackintosh). The Nocturnes, especially Fêtes, achieve a shimmering, decidedly un-Monet-like glaze, and la Mer erupts and glistens.”
Fiona Maddocks – The Observer – 13 May 2012

 

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