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Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, May 2013

A collection of some of Debussy’s most attractive compositions are skillfully presented here. Some of the selections are often embellished though not here and Markl is letting the music flow and resisting the temptation to make them even more of a showpiece. That works outstandingly well. Nearly everything on this release is quite simply attractive and needs no hyping to attract even more attention. Obviously the conducting is spot on here and the orchestral response is simply excellent. It makes for a great evening of great music. Everything seems just right, so enjoy the entire recorded disc. Sure, it makes for an easy recommendation even for new classical listeners. © 2013 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Boyd Pomeroy
Fanfare, September 2010

This is the third volume in a series of Debussy’s orchestral music from the Lyon orchestra under its young German conductor; I haven’t heard the other two, but on this evidence I want to.

Images gets off to a good start with a Gigues of smooth, rounded, refined sonorities—little or no hint here of those tangy, fruity, acidic French orchestral timbres of a bygone era...Rhythmic and dynamic detail is sharply observed. Phrases are beautifully shaped, with plenty of breathing space, building impressively to the tragic climax.

Ibéria is absolutely first-rate, displaying a masterly integration of the work’s many subtle tempo changes, in the service of Debussy’s incomparably atmospheric evocations: e.g., in “Par les rues et par les chemins,” the transition from sun-drenched glitter to the mysterious, unsettlingly shadowy world of the central part. “Les parfums de la nuit” is taken slowly, with beautifully swung habanera rhythms. “Le matin d’un jour de fête” relishes to the full both the majestic, dazzling luminosity of the movement’s outer sections and the quirky eccentricity of its central adventures. I don’t know if Jun Märkl is a string player by training, but throughout he achieves an amazing variety of string sounds and articulations reminiscent of the great string-playing maestros of the past...Listen to the extraordinary care Märkl lavishes over such details such as the violas’ taking over the ostinato in the central nocturnal procession of “Par les rues” (léger et rythmé, and suddenly rather sinister-sounding in its new surroundings); the darkly delicate swaying of the divided violas’ and cellos’ introduction of the sinuous habanera in “Les parfums”; or the electrifying crescendos of the “giant guitar” effect in “Le matin.”

The performance of Rondes de printemps is spacious and finely detailed, holding tempo and power in reserve for an exciting quickening of the pulse in the coda.

All in all, these Images easily stand comparison to the best of the digital era...Märkl lavishes just as much care on the short pieces, from the gorgeous kaleidoscope of marble tints in Ravel’s orchestration of the Sarabande to the swirling mists of the Marche écossaise, whose engaging Celtic camp conceals many touches of real Debussyan harmonic alchemy. The sinuous rubato of La Plus que lente’s slow waltz (complete with exotically twanging cimbalom) is teased out to the manner born.

The recording is resonant and spacious, a natural concert hall balance with outstanding perspective and depth, and no artificial highlighting of detail. This conductor/orchestra partnership is clearly something out of the ordinary, and I’ll be watching for more from them. At the price, the disc is a terrific bargain, whether you’re a newcomer to these pieces or a seasoned collector of multiple versions.

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, July 2010

This is Volume 3 of Debussy’s orchestral music with the Lyon orchestra and Jun Markl. It’s the first I’ve heard from that series, though I have reviewed their recording of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe. I wrote that it was clear-toned, not-soimpressionist in style, and that the Lyon orchestra sounded fine if a bit small. It is a performance that should especially appeal to people who like a modernist interpretation of the work.

I make no such qualifications here. This is a great Images. Markl and the orchestra seem more assured, perhaps because Images is less of an impressionist work in overall effect than Daphnis and thus better suited to their approach. This is especially the case with ‘Iberia’. Markl’s reading is vibrant, robust, and yet lean in some ways, if you can imagine such a combination. He wields a strong grip, but the effect is concentration and intensity, not rigidity, and the orchestra pours out color at every turn. The brass are clear, bracing, and avoid edginess. I has powerful accents, tight rhythm with good spring. The tempo is just on the slow side, but it sounds right and allows all kinds of detail to emerge. Everything is stylish, with good inner energy. The music dances, and I don’t mind the slight loss of languid atmosphere. II is careful and not all that steamy, but it is still atmospheric and colorful, with clear definition and solid balance. I think of it as quietly vibrant and a refreshingly different view. ‘Morning of the Festive Day’ really sounds like a Spanish village waking up. I especially like the prominent chimes and taut festivity.

As for the other Images, ‘Gigues’ begins hushed but full of ripe presence, with fine rhythmic lift. The orchestra sounds alive and not small at all. Woodwinds predominate, and the percussion is lively and shimmering. The music dances; the skipping rhythm is suitably prominent. The slow section is dramatic and atmospheric. Only in ‘Rondes de Printemps’ do I find Markl too emphatic and direct, but it is a fine conclusion to a terrific Images, nonetheless.

The shorter entries are piano pieces orchestrated by Debussy himself or Ravel. ‘Sarabande’, the second movement from Pour le Piano (Ravel), sounds like a haunting pavane; the trumpet entrance is especially effective. ‘Danse’ (Ravel) is light, deft, and spirited in the fast sections and nicely lyrical and occasionally warm in the slower moments. ‘Marche Ecossaise’ manages to sound both modal and reflective while maintaining the color and energy (certainly in the vigorous, yet well controlled brassy ending) that has characterized the entire program. ‘Le Plus que Lente’ (slower than slow) is a waltz parody, exaggeratedly elegant and patrician, played with just the right touch of dreamlike schmaltz.

The recording is close, clear, and vivid, with quick articulations and good definition and instrumental placement. Textures are just right and not too lean. If I must complain about something, it is slightly deficient bass, but that might be my system.

Roger Nichols
BBC Music Magazine, June 2010

Much of this disc is excellent. Jun Märkl persuades his orchestra to extremes of vulgarity and tenderness, which is as it should be in the extraordinary Images…there is much here to enjoy.

David Hurwitz, May 2010

Jun Märkl has the orchestra responding with unflagging enthusiasm. Nor is he at all insensitive in Les parfums de las nuit. The couplings, as with other discs in this series, consist of shorter works and orchestrations by other hands, and they also are very well done. So if the repertoire selection appeals to you, then this well-recorded issue merits a place in your collection.

Julian Haylock
Classic FM, May 2010

In Jun Märkl’s expert hands one can immediately sense Debussy…[Märkl] magically evokes iridescent textures from which points of sound emerge like piquant sources of light on a canvas. A captivating performance enhanced by four bonus orchestrations.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2010

Though regarded as one of the most influential composers of the early twentieth century, Claude Debussy’s orchestral scores were not large in number, this being the third volume of an almost complete cycle. He was basically a lazy person, a fact that explains his lack of quantity. But he was a master scene painter and an outstanding orchestrator who could use the most subtle hues to create shimmering pictures beloved in the Impressionist era. He was capturing England, Spain and Frances in the orchestral Images, the third work with that title, the first two being scored for piano. It was to be one of his most extensive orchestral scores, and having often developed in restrained sounds it bursts into primary colours in the fourth section, Le matin d’un jour de fete, and continues through to the playful final picture of France, Rondes de printemps. The German conductor, Jun Märkl, never exaggerates dynamics contrasts, as you will oft find in other recordings, and is always fascinated by the music’s half-colours. Ravel, who served many other composers with his gift of orchestration, was responsible for the Serabande from Pour le piano and the fascinating Danse that was made into one of Debussy’s most instantly recognisable pieces. Finally two more piano pieces orchestrated by the composer, the Marche ecossaise sur un theme populaire and the seductive dance, La plus que lente. Throughout the playing of the Lyon orchestra is elegant, the strings suitably shimmering, the brass far less pungent than the French orchestras of years past. The recording captures every nuance.

Mark Pullinger
International Record Review, March 2010

Märkl creates the melancholic atmosphere well here, with lots of detail apparent in a beefy orchestral sound, recorded at a high dynamic level.

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