Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy * Poulenc * Roussel: Debussy Six Epigraphes Antiques

Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy * Poulenc * Roussel: Debussy Six Epigraphes Antiques

Article excerpt

Debussy * Poulenc * Roussel

Debussy Six Epigraphes antiques (orch Ansermet) Poulenc Les biches--Suite Roussel Bacchus et Ariane, Op 43--Two Suites Suisse Romande Orchestra / Kazuki Yamada Pentatone (F) [SACD] PTC5186 558 (76' * DDD/DSD)

Kazuki Yamada's new album forms a tacit tribute to the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande's founder Ernest Ansermet, since the latter's orchestration of Debussy's Six Epigraphes antiques forms its centrepiece and to some extent its raison d'etre. A work with a curious history, it started out as a setting for reciter and chamber ensemble of Pierre Louys's Chansons de Bilitis (not to be confused with the songs based on the same text), before being revised, minus the poetry, for piano duet in 1914. Debussy's subsequent plans to orchestrate it himself came to nothing.

Some have seemingly questioned just how successfully Ansermet's version, completed in 1939, mirrors Debussy's own style and the booklet-notes argue that the instrumentation more closely approximates that of Ravel. It's a work of sparse musical gestures, sensuous yet austere, rooted in a sequence of woodwind solos--flute, oboe, bassoon--surrounded and supported by string figurations and the sparest touches of orchestral colour. …

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