Debussy and Ravel from Asian talent
The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra beguile under the watchful eye of Myung-Whun Chung.
Composer: Debussy, Ravel
Repertoire: La Mer, La Valse, Ma Mere l'Oye
Artist: Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra/ Myung-Whun Chung
Label: Deutsche Grammophon 4764498
The Music: The Impressionist tag which Debussy so loathed has never been more applicable than when listening to the shimmering symphonic sketches of La Mer. Fellow Frenchman Ravel matches Debussy’s orchestral colour with a wit of his own which characterises Mother Goose and turns La Valse into political commentary.
The Performance: This is an unexpectedly good performance from an orchestra that’s been rapidly improving under the radar, before becoming the first Asian orchestra to sign to a major label record deal. There’s a wonderful sense of rhythmic movement and cohesion to Debussy’s music, but at the expense of some detailing which I missed. Ravel’s music has plenty of energy – especially the closing sections of La Valse, but Mother Goose lacked a sense of fun.
The Verdict: Maestro Chung has achieved a dramatic turnaround in the standards of musicianship since 2005, and on this showing of the French repertoire, at which he excels, the orchestra deserves its place on the world stage.
Want More? For Debussy fans, the set of his orchestral music by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Bernard Haitink takes some beating (Philips, 438 7422).