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Posted October 1, 2010
Pierre Boulez may not be everyone's ideal of an impressionist conductor (think Charles Münch) but when it comes to allowing the inner ear to appreciate the intricacies of why Debussy was such a profound influence on contemporary music, Boulez (and Esa-Pekka Salonen) are the maestros to address. After experiencing a performance by Salonen and the LA Phil of the 'Printemps' (perfection!) the question arises 'why are there so very few recordings of this early work by Debussy?'. While there are many recordings of the other two works on this CD, there are only a few worthy samples of 'Printemps'. The work is a suite in two parts: though Debussy loathed the idea of putting word descriptors for his tone poems, he claimed this work was not about 'Spring' but instead about the creation of life and then a celebration of that creation. The first movement opens with a piano four-hands melody that is slowly absorbed by the entire (large) orchestra. Once the melody has bloomed into full embodiment of life, the second movement uses the motifs to create a sensuous dance. Boulez finds the subtleties in this youthful work, pointing out how Debussy's gifts were present from the beginning and what better way to make his point than to join the 'Printemps' with the later 'Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune' and 'Images'. The Cleveland Orchestra responds to Boulez in a fluid and otherworldly sound. This is a fine recording and given the paucity of other examples of 'Printemps' it is one of the best. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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Posted October 1, 2010
Pierre Boulez is a champion of computer-generated performances that mesh with human musicians but he also programs and records complete musical scores as opposed to shortened suites. We saw this in January when he conducted the complete Stravinsky Firebird ballet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Boulez is scheduled to conduct Debussy's Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian in November, 2010. May we anticipate a release of that performance? I hope so!
The previous reviewer of this disk informs us of the value and outstanding quality of Printemps. In addition, because the Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune is here, followed by the three Images pour orchestre, I consider this the perfect version to own of these classic Debussy compositions to play and enjoy whenever you wish. The Cleveland Orchestra sound is magnificent!