Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy, Mussorgsky, Ravel, Schumann, Wagner
CD No: IMG Artists CZS 5 75106 2 (2 CDs) Duration: Reviewed: August 2002
Great Conductors - André Cluytens
Reviewed by Bill Newman
I heard André Cluytens twice: first at the Royal Festival Hall where the main work was Berliozs Symphonie fantastique which he recorded for Walter Legge with the Philharmonia Orchestra shortly afterwards. Then, nearing the end of his life when he was a pale shadow of his earlier command for detailed excellence with the Berlin Philharmonic at the Lucerne Festival. The attraction was the Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures, which was dispirited, flabby and half-hearted.
No such qualms affect Cluytenss largely inspired set of Beethoven symphonies with the same orchestra; since then theres been a constant surfeit of his recordings appearing, first on EMI, then Royal Classics and now Testament. Another Fantastique (1964, Tokyo, Paris Conservatoire Orchestra) now appears simultaneously on Great Conductors and Testament. This GC compilation might reflect the similar tone of one I made for Godfrey Winn, years back for his regular weekly spot on Radio Luxembourg. Bizets Symphony (1953), Debussys Images (1963). Ravels La valse (1958), Schumanns Manfred Overture (1957) and Wagners Lohengrin Prelude Act III (1959) these have all appeared at some time or other on CD. The Coronation Scene from Mussorgskys Boris Godunov opera lovers already have this.
There is a glut of Cluytenss recordings still awaiting reissue (believe it or not): Paris Conservatoire, Haydn symphonies 45 & 96; Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio espagnol & Scheherazade; Stravinsky, A Soldiers Tale. With the Berlin Philharmonic: Strauss, Love Scene from Feuersnot & Don Juan; Smetana, The Moldau & From Bohemias Meadows and Forests.