Debussy’s orchestral works are much loved for their exquisite orchestrations, poetically nuanced harmonies and almost magical evocations of time and place.
He achieved his first significant success in 1900 with Nocturnes, which portrays in three movements clouds reflected in the sea, holiday festivals in the Bois de Boulogne and the fatally seductive song of the Sirens.
The Pelléas et Mélisande Symphony was derived by Marius Constant from the orchestral episodes of Debussy’s famous opera, while the Trois Études are heard in a revealing orchestration of the piano originals by the contemporary Swiss composer, Michael Jarrell.
“The two major items here are the set of three Nocturnes, central to Debussy's output, and the substantial symphonic suite from Pelléas etMélisande that Marius Constant put together using almost entirely the opera's evocative orchestral interludes. Märkl's performance is warm and idiomatic, and the only reservation is that almost inevitably there is rather a lack of contrast in music that moves slowly. It is nonetheless a valuable item, adding to the outstanding performance of the three Nocturnes which is the high-point of the whole collection. The first, 'Nuages', is supremely evocative with refined strings and a cor anglais solo that stands out in the terracing of textures. 'Fêtes' is richly seductive in its bright colours. The passage where one hears a procession from afar on muted trumpets is wonderfully achieved, with crisply precise triplets leading up to a powerful climax before fading away again.
The longest of the three Nocturnes, 'Sirènes', brings a vital contribution from the Leipzig choir attached to the other orchestra with which Märkl is associated, the Leipzig Radio Symphony. Their chording and ensemble is flawless. The Caplet orchestration of the piano piece 'Clair de lune' is beautifully wrought and here given a sumptuous performance.
The Berceuse héroïque is similarly evocative, with its distant fanfares and its climactic reference to the Belgian National Anthem. The three Etudes, orchestrated by Michael Jarrell as recently as 1991, represent a different approach; a degree sharper, appropriate enough for some of Debussy's most advanced music, and pointing forward to a new generation of composers. A richly satisfying collection, immaculately recorded, with its full measure of rarities.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“…the outstanding performance of the three Nocturnes… is the high-point of the whole collection. …"Nuages", is supremely evocative with refined strings and a cor anglais solo that stands out in the terracing of textures. "Fêtes" is richly seductive… The passage where one hears a procession from afar on muted trumpets is wonderfully achieved... "Sirènes", brings a vital contribution from the Leipzig choir... Their chording and ensemble is flawless. A richly satisfying collection, immaculately recorded, with its full measure of rarities.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2009