Great Conductors – André Cluytens

0 of 5 stars

André Cluytens
Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy, Mussorgsky, Ravel, Schumann, Wagner
Recorded 1953-64

Reviewed by: Bill Newman

Reviewed: August 2002
CD No: IMG Artists CZS 5 75106 2 (2 CDs)

I heard André Cluytens twice: first at the Royal Festival Hall where the main work was Berlioz’s 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 Cluytens’s largely inspired set of Beethoven symphonies with the same orchestra; since then there’s 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. Bizet’s Symphony (1953), Debussy’s Images (1963). Ravel’s La valse (1958), Schumann’s Manfred Overture (1957) and Wagner’s Lohengrin Prelude Act III (1959) – these have all appeared at some time or other on CD. The ’Coronation Scene’ from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov’ – opera lovers already have this.

There is a glut of Cluytens’s recordings still awaiting reissue (believe it or not): Paris Conservatoire, Haydn symphonies 45 & 96; Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio espagnol & Scheherazade; Stravinsky, A Soldier’s Tale. With the Berlin Philharmonic: Strauss, Love Scene from Feuersnot & Don Juan; Smetana, The Moldau & From Bohemia’s Meadows and Forests.

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