Related Reviews
« Scottish Ensemble, qui a été fondé en 1969 et qui est, sans conteste, un des meilleurs orchestres à cordes européens. Sur ce même disque figurent en outre trois œuvres de Toru Takemitsu, dont l'étrange et envoûtante Nostalghia composée en 1987 en mémoire du cinéaste russe Andreï Tarkovski, décédé quelques mois plus tôt à l'âge de cinquante-quatre ans. Ce seul morceau d'une douzaine de minutes, parfaitement exécuté. »
more >>
The Strad
'[a] nicely nuanced performance, which [is] helped by the beautifully warm quality of the recording.'
more >>
MusicWeb International
'I rather think Debussy would have smiled on this arrangement of his String Quartet.'
more >>
Hi-Fi News
'Engaging performances all, set in the ambience of Caird Hall, Dundee, with lively channel information.'
more >>
'Le Scottish Ensemble emporte avec beaucoup de conviction et de ferveur le Quatuor à cordes de Debussy dans l’excellente transcription de Morton...'
more >>
American Record Guide
'...the Scottish Ensemble play Jonathan Morton’s arrangement with pure, shimmering, glassy timbre and minimal vibrato...'
more >>
'Toru Takemitsu's Nostalghia, forms the memorable conclusion to this impressive new disc from the Scottish Ensemble. The more poignant for its restraint, this miniature concerto for violin and strings requires just the kind of subtly polished playing that Jonathan Morton and his team provide.'
more >>
Classical CD Choice
'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 items alone are worth the price of admission.'
more >>
Classic FM
'The reason for getting it though is the opportunity it gives to appreciate some rarely heard music.'
more >>
The Sunday Times
'Interleaving Debussy and Takemitsu can't fail.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 ‘Record Review’
'...thoughtfully programmed, beautifully recorded.'
more >>
'Expansive arrangements of Debussy and Takemitsu with a spirited, imaginative rendering.'
more >>
The Guardian
'Nimbleness and rapt eloquence'
more >>

Scottish Ensemble - Debussy & Takemitsu - Music for Several Instruments Blog

24 May 2016
Music for Several Instruments Blog
Dean Frey

A multi-cultural dance

Adapting a string quartet for string orchestra is analogous to "opening up" a play to make a film. When it's done well both the adapters and the actors can take a lot of credit. Think of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The success of the film is due in equal measure to a great screenplay by Ernest Lehman, great direction by Mike Nichols, and amazing acting by an ensemble of movie stars. We have a similar situation in this fine new disc from Linn Records: one of the great String Quartets, by Debussy, is adapted by Jonathan Morton, and then Morton leads the fine string players of the Scottish Ensemble in a superb performance. Two things are key here: firstly Morton loses none of Debussy's instrumental colour by homogenizing the string lines, and secondly the players are beautifully in sync with each other while still giving that "opened up" feeling. This is a successful adaptation that rewards repeated listening with new insights into the beauty of Debussy's composition and the sound of violins, violas, cellos and basses playing together.

Speaking of film, one of my favourite works for string orchestra is Toru Takemitsu's 1987 work Nostalghia (In Memory of Andrei Tarkovsky). Though Takemitsu wrote a great deal of film score music (including two additional works on this disc), this piece is not from the great film, though it wouldn't be out of place there. Tarkovsky rather used music from works such as Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Verdi's Requiem. It's an amazing film, and Takemitsu's work is a heart-felt hommage.

As to the rest of this album, everything is at this very high level of passionate music making. The alternating Debussy and Takemitsu pieces are a kind of multi-cultural dance where each composer illuminates the other. A triumph from Scotland!

Bookmark and Share

Related Links

Scottish EnsembleScottish Ensemble
Debussy & Takemitsu for stringsDebussy & Takemitsu for strings