Claude Debussy, who died 100 years ago in March 1918, is one of history's greatest composers and the most influential of all French composers. A father of modern music, Debussy lived in the early days of the recording era.
All the artists who appear in this 10CD set, Debussy: His First Performers, were in some way pioneers in the performance of his music in the first half of the 20th century. All the recordings in this collection provide an authoritative and illuminating point of reference in our appreciation of Debussy.
The roster of performers is led by musicians who knew the composer personally, some of whom gave world premieres of his works. They also made some of the earliest recordings that feature on this set. Covering a period that extends from 1904 to 1963, Debussy: His First Performers also embraces landmark interpretations by artists, born during Debussy's lifetime, who have come to define our understanding of the composer's genius.
Among the most significant names in this collection - which covers piano, chamber and orchestral music, song and opera - are: pianists Ricardo Viñes, Alfred Cortot, Marcelle Meyer, Marguerite Long, Walter Gieseking - and Debussy himself (recordings made on piano rolls); violinist Jacques Thibaud; singers Mary Garden, Jane Bathori, Ninon Vallin, Claire Croiza (accompanied by Francis Poulenc at the piano), Maggie Teyte and Charles Panzéra; conductors Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, Arturo Toscanini, Pierre Monteux, Ernest Ansermet, Roger Désormière and Charles Munch.
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"Technology and artistes alike took time adjusting to Debussy’s language: witness especially a 1922 account of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, seemingly recorded in thick fog. Yet these misfits are never without interest and when music, acoustic and performers are in tune you feel the connection immediately."