Robin Ticciati & DSO - Debussy & Faure - The Arts Desk

Robin Ticciati’s Linn recordings with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra share a fiery intensity, the leanness of sound brilliantly serving the music. This new release, the first made with Ticciati’s Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, shows him relishing this orchestra’s refulgent tone. I was won over within seconds by the sumptuous string sound in the prelude to Fauré’s neglected opera Pénélope. You can understand why this delectable, Wagnerian music has fallen by the wayside, the work contemporaneous with Stravinsky’s Rite and Debussy’s Jeux. We think of Fauré as a quintessentially 19th century figure, though he actually outlived Debussy by six years. More Fauré comes in the shape of the suite drawn from his incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande, wonderfully played, the flute solo in the “Sicilliene” ravishing. Fauré’s score was written at the same time as Debussy’s opera, and Paul Roberts’ lucid sleeve note outlines the sometimes fractious relationship between the two composers.

Debussy’s music fills the rest of the disc. Ticciati's La Mer is outstanding. The orchestral playing is superb (listen to the lower strings 2’50” into the first movement) and Ticciati’s approach combines steely rigour with winning impetuosity. This ”Jeux de vagues” really glitters, and the work’s final minutes are overwhelming. Ticciati sensibly reinstates the spiky trumpet fanfares which Debussy excised near the close: play this at full volume and you'll taste the salt. As a bonus, we've Brett Dean’s idiomatic orchestrations of Debussy's song-cycle Ariettes oubliées, sung with some relish by Magdalena Kožena. “Chevaux de bois” is a boisterous highlight.

The Arts Desk
28 October 2017