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CD Review

Claude Debussy / Arthur Honegger

L'Enfant Prodigue / Symphony #3

Jeanne Micheau, soprano
Michel Senechal, tenor
Pierre Mollet, baritone
Coro e Orchestra Sinfonica RAI di Torino/André Cluytens
Arts Archives 43059-2 64m ADD
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This is a historical release in more ways than one as it enshrines a magnificent and hugely important performance of Honegger's Third Symphony by Andre Cluytens who never recorded the work commercially. Debussy's 'L'Enfant Prodigue' is also a colossal addition to Cluytens' discography, a rare work, superbly done here and another crucial discovery by Arts.

Honegger's Third is perhaps his most famous work and has received sterling interpretations over the years by such stalwarts as Karajan, Ansermet and Dutoit but Cluytens is now definitely the one I would go for alongside the Karajan version. The French conductor understands the idiom of his countryman and the RAI Orchestra play with absolute superb panache all around especially in the soul searching final movement.

'L'Enfant Prodigue' is a rarely performed work but soloists, chorus and orchestra come together quite magically under the knowledgeable baton of Cluytens. This cantata requires a firm control of pace and sturdy conviction and I cannot recall a better executed performance that is preserved in rather excellent sound from the early 60's. This is yet another indispensable collection of works from the indefatigable Arts Archives team. Maybe some more Honegger or Roussel symphonies from Cluytens next, please?

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech