It is nothing short of astonishing to register the fact that these seminal recordings by Paul Paray were set down in the late fifties in sound that often surpasses today's state of the art digital recordings. Decca have once again put us in their debt with the re-release of the Mercury catalogue and this magnificent collection of French music surely takes pride of place.
Paray's pacing in España is quite magical and he brings out all the charm and joy of the work in a manner rather similar to Sir Thomas Beecham although his recording is infinitely clearer. The Suite Pastorale also bounces along with infectious vitality with the concluding 'Scherzo-Valse' particularly spectacular. I sat listening transfixed to Paray's masterful interpretations of the excerpts from 'Le Roi' malgré lui' and the exhilarating 'Joyeuse Marche', continually marveling at the astonishing sound reproduced by those great Mercury engineers.
Albert Roussel's short 'Suite in F' makes up the rest of the disc and it is also winningly done in all three movements. The SACD sound is truly astonishing, although the CD mix is excellent too and one can only sit back, listen and enjoy the fantastic sound world of these magnificent Mercury recordings with relish.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech