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Debussy - Orchestral Masterworks

La Mer; Prélude à l'Après-Midi; Images

Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel 20

Zig-Zag Territoires ZZT313

A marvellously atmospheric "period instruments" account of Iberia and the other Images, with gut strings, French-made woodwind, brass, percussion and harps of Debussy's time, for live performaces in a warm acoustic in Brugge.

The first movement of La Mer is sumptuous (I guess all reviewers have to cut corners at holiday times) and I am sure that this is a delectable release, not to be passed by even though you've probably got other recordings of this key oeuvre.

And don't be put off by some vagaries of the production; small print, grey on white and black on dark blue - crazy, both hard to read - and mysterious covers with inscrutable text which turns out to relate to one of the sponsors, a Car Parking firm; would a British one sponsor classical CDs ?...

Peter Grahame Woolf

Photo: Alex Vanhee





the orchestral Images that gains most from the brighter, rawer colours of this performance, with the myriad subtleties of Debussy's scoring more beguiling than ever. Where most conductors make the three-part Ibéria their centrepiece, with Gigues before it and Rondes de Printemps as the finale, Van Immerseel begins with Rondes and places Ibéria last, following the order adopted by Debussy's friend and assistant André Caplet for performances he conducted after the composer's death. There's logic to that ordering, for Ibéria is significantly longer than the other two movements put together, and makes a substantial finale to the whole sequence; Van Immerseel resists the temptation to turn it into a real orchestral showpiece, but there's enough flair and imagination to make his performance compelling.