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Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, December 2012

This is quite simply the most comprehensive recording ever made of Debussy’s orchestral music, including many arrangements by other hands. Individual performers may have surpassed some of the items here, but Jun Märkl and his Lyon forces do the music proud. © 2012 MusicWeb International

Michael Round
International Piano, November 2012

An unqualified must-buy box for pianists, conductors and arrangers alike, especially at Naxos’ price. © 2012 International Piano

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, July 2012

The playing was highly praised, and it is spectacular; Markl’s soloists all have a strong personality. I heard the horns frack a few notes once, but that was my lone complaint. The sound, as Lawrence Hansen noted, is spacious but a little cool; the orchestra is balanced from top to bottom. I’m very happy to have such a superb set of Debussy recordings. The Sacred and Profane Dances for harp and strings are a pleasant end to the set. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Nigel Simeone
International Record Review, July 2012

…it’s a fascinating and extensive collection that I recommend both to collectors who want to explore some of the rarities and also to anyone wanting to hear Märkl’s impressively plated and imaginatively conducted performances of the major works. © 2012 International Record Review

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, April 2012

This set is…more than comprehensive, including a considerable number of arrangements and orchestrations by Debussy’s friends and colleagues as well as many by more modern composers. It also includes two pieces of juvenilia which have only been prepared for performance more recently. This set of recordings is therefore important for its completeness alone, but it has other claims to our attention as well.

…the performance of L’après-midi d’un faune which opens the first disc is an absolute stunner. It immediately arrests the listener with the very slow and languorous flute solo and the crystal limpidity of the orchestral response. The piece is thoroughly re-imagined and approached with a freshness which is as delightful as it is unexpected. The modernity of the writing which so startled first audiences is brought vividly to life…everything that we hear is just what the composer put into his innovatory score, and nothing is obscured. The orchestral phrasing is lovely…This is an unconventional performance, but thoroughly convincing…It is rare indeed that a new recording of a very well-known masterpiece makes the listener sit up and say “yes, that’s it!”—but that is exactly the effect this performance had on this reviewer.

The performance of La mer also starts slowly and atmospherically, but soon gathers momentum…The recording again enables one to hear everything. Debussy’s often unconventional orchestration comes across superbly. The notorious passage for sixteen divided cellos in the first movement is…clearly and precisely delivered. The Jeux de vagues is like crystal, with unexpectedly touches of delicacy…the harp towards the end is distanced to perfection.

Jeux is given an ultra-clear performance which reminds one of a super-precise Boulez. The orchestral performance here is intensely alive and responsive.

The performance of the Nocturnes is gloriously atmospheric. Nuages has a properly amorphous sound, with some admirable phrasing in the opening phrases which could to advantage be even slower; but the flute solo towards the end is given plenty of time to breathe and expand. Fêtes explodes with some wonderfully vital playing and the recording exposes every detail analytically, like a newly cleaned painting.

Any performance of the Images has to be measured against Monteux’s incomparable reading from the early 1960s…but Märkl is most certainly not an also-ran. The opening of Gigues is less impressionistically atmospheric than Monteux, but it has plenty of spirit and verve as well as a nice line in rubato. Ibéria sparkles delightfully, with explosive castanets, and the trombones at the end which are rather muffled under Monteux come through nicely here.

The symphonic fragments from Le martyre de Saint Sébastien have the correctly distant air at the beginning…Le bon pasteur is gorgeous, allowing the music to breathe naturally and the response by the strings to the opening cor anglais give just the right sort of frisson. This is stunningly beautiful music which is still too little appreciated…

The final CD of the set brings together Debussy’s various concertante works, and in the early Fantaisie the pianist is Jean-Yves Thibaudet, no less. He gives a heartfelt performance of this piece of juvenilia—incorporating Debussy’s later changes to the score from the revised 1968 edition—which almost persuades one that the work would have received as many performances if it had been by another composer. Märkl and the orchestra support him with just the right sort of generalised romantic sound. The other works on this disc are mature Debussy, and are given good readings here.

…the performance of L’après-midi is a controversial must-hear. The rarities which are included are most invaluable and make this collection highly desirable. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, March 2012

This fully comprehensive collection by the National Orchestre de Lyon and its superb pianist turned director Jun Markl truly provide one stop shopping for all of this wonderful music and in radiant, sensitive performances. I found it easiest to approach my listening to this massive collection in groups. First, the “big and familiar” are—of course—present and provide a good place to start. Prelude a l’apres midi d’un faune, La mer, Nocturnes and Images are all here and are quite impressive… I enjoyed each of these performances and interpretations by Markl a great deal.

There are also some wonderful and well known works for soloist and orchestra in this set that—again—I know well and was very pleased with. The Premiere Rapsodie for clarinet and orchestra…shows off his [Paul Meyer] beautiful tone and liquid technique quite well. In this performance [Rapsodie for alto saxophone and orchestra], Frenchman Alexandre Doisy plays beautifully and offers an accurate but not overly mannered performance…soloist Emmanuel Ceysson gives a beautifully and idiomatic performance [Danses Sacree et Profane for harp and strings]. Renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet gives a beautiful performance [Fantaisie for piano and orchestra].

One of the best reasons to acquire this smartly-packaged and historically significant set is the many, many orchestral transcriptions of Debussy piano works. …La Boite a jouxjoux (The Toybox)…is a very effective and charming orchestral set in four “tableaux” with a prelude, waltz and epilogue. This collection also contains a massive amount of orchestral arrangements…all interesting and well worth listening to.

I strongly recommend this set for Debussy fans who want some new and undiscovered gems as well for anyone who would like to have all of Debussy’s orchestral output—and then some—in one quite comprehensive, reasonably-priced package and with excellent performances. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

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