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*** DEBUSSY: "Images pour orchestre," and others. Los Angeles Philharmonic. Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor. (Sony Classical)

March 02, 1997|Chris Pasles

Esa-Pekka Salonen's second disc of Debussy works with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Sony Classical continues his distinctive and very modern approach to the composer. He creates clean, glassy, transparent textures; maintains exquisite balances; elicits superb solo work from (unfortunately, unidentified) L.A. Philharmonic principals.

He also strips the music of psychological and sensual nuance, evoking, for instance, the most rarefied of erotic Fauns, on the one hand, and the least mysterious and profound of seas, on the other.

While there is flexibility and openness of line, there is also lack of momentum and cohesiveness. While events emerge fleetingly and fluidly, the playing sounds tightly controlled and overly determined. Attention to surface brilliance predominates.

The odd result: The melting Impressionism of Debussy begins to sound like the hard-edged structures of Ravel.

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