Debussy Clean, Clear and Dull from Shui and Singapore

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 9

This latest installment in Lan Shui and the Singapore Symphony’s Debussy series contain one major work (the Nocturnes), one almost major work (Printemps), and four odds and ends–the rarely played Saxophone Rhapsody, the uninteresting Berceuse Héroïque and Marche Écossaise, and the lovely Two Dances for Harp and Strings. The performances (and sonics) are super clear, with excellent playing by the Singapore Symphony in this swift account of Fêtes (from the Nocturnes), but also completely lacking in atmosphere.

Now, I don’t subscribe to the notion that proper Debussy involves a healthy dose of “impressionist” fog, but when, say, in Sirènes the wordless female choir sounds too loud, and close enough at times to make out individual voices (did I once date that third Siren from the left in the second row?), then something significant is missing. Elsewhere, as in the Two Dances, the performance is so uninflected as to pass by almost unnoticed. The extreme clarity of texture serves Printemps well, but I have to confess that by the end of this unnecessary disc I was thoroughly bored, and you probably will be too.

BIS is now packaging some discs in a proprietary ecologically friendly paper sleeve that uses, allegedly, soy ink and “eco-friendly glue,” whatever that is. Now I’m all for getting rid of plastic jewel cases and reducing one’s carbon footprint, but at full price it seems to me that making the product look even cheaper and more flimsy than it already does isn’t such a great idea. And of course there’s nothing to be done for the plastic disc itself. Maybe BIS would be even more ecological if it refrained from making pointless CDs like this one. Just sayin’.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Martinon (EMI/Warner)

    Printemps; Saxophone Rhapsodie; Marche Écossaise; Berceuse Héroïque, Two Danses; Nocturnes

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