Fitting SSO tribute to Claude Debussy

This is the final instalment of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's (SSO) three-disc survey of orchestral music by Claude Debussy (1862-1918), under the direction of former music director Shui Lan.

Having recorded major works La Mer and Three Images For Orchestra, this disc concludes with the Three Nocturnes (1897-1899), which helped establish the Frenchman as a frontline composer.

Impressionist in thought and colour, Nuages (Clouds) and Fetes (Festivals) are musical tableaus distinguished by contrasting moods which are vividly evocative.

The ennui of grey skies and frenetic pace of human activity are soon effaced by the haunting finale, Sirenes (Sirens), which features wordless women's voices from the Philharmonic Chamber Choir of Europe.

There are also two concertante works, beginning with Rapsodie (1901-1911), showcasing the variegated shadings of superb French saxophonist Claude Delangle, reminding one of the sinuous opening to the famous Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Faun.

  • 20TH-CENTURY CLASSICS

  • DEBUSSY NOCTURNES/ PRINTEMPS ETC.

    Singapore Symphony Orchestra

    Lan Shui

    BIS 2232

    5 stars

The beautiful Two Dances (1904, Danse Sacre Et Danse Profane) are graced by SSO principal harpist Gulnara Mashurova, who brings out their alternatingly formal and sensuous faces, backed by just strings.

This interesting album is completed by lesser-known odds and ends, the Scottish March On A Popular Theme (1890); Berceuse Heroique (1914), which quotes La Brabanconne, the Belgian national anthem; and the early Printemps (1887, orchestrated by Henri Busser), a reminder of the French Belle Epoque.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2019, with the headline 'Fitting SSO tribute to Claude Debussy'. Print Edition | Subscribe