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Scottish Ensemble - Debussy & Takemitsu - Classical CD Choice


13 July 2016
Classical CD Choice
Barry Forshaw

I don't know about you (there are those who are distinctly sniffy about such things), but I am always on the lookout for new orchestrations of pieces written for other combinations, usually written originally for a small number of strings. Much depends, of course, on the skill of the orchestrator. The pieces arranged by Jonathan Morton (who conducts the Scottish ensemble) are done with such musicality and sensitivity here that only the most unbending of listeners will be able to resist their charm. The Debussy String Quartet in G minor may have more rigour and intensity in its original setting, but the sheer bloom of the new clothing it is given here by Morton provides a fresh dimension. I'm not greatly taken with the Takemitsu pieces, but there will be those who are more on the composer's wavelength. The Debussy items alone, however, are worth the price of admission. The Scottish Ensemble's reputation for excellent string arrangements (established with important commissions from the late Rudolph Barshai) continues here. The variety of string techniques and the wide palette of instrumental colours Debussy employed are all enhanced by the larger string ensemble, particularly in the sumptuously beautiful slow movement. In addition, the attractively lyrical Girl with the Flaxen Hair has been orchestrated for string ensemble and two harps by Colin Matthews.


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