Hans Vonk

Debussy: La Mer; Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales; Ravel: La Valse; Roussel: Suite No. 2 from Bacchus et Ariane

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Hans Vonk and the St. Louis Symphony's recordings of Debussy's La Mer, Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales and La Valse plus Roussel's Suite No. 2 from Bacchus et Ariane are of generally good quality, but they pale somewhat in comparison to the best recordings of the repertoire. There is a taste of the sea in their La Mer, a feeling of the dance in their La Valse, and an antiquated tint in their Bacchus et Ariane. But in the most famous recordings of these works, one is engulfed by the towering climaxes of La Mer, overwhelmed by the audacity of La Valse, and almost uncomfortably embraced by the intense sensuality of Bacchus et Ariane. Much as one may admire Vonk's insightful and energetic direction and enjoy the symphony's crisp and clear articulation, one may want more from these supremely evocative works than they have to offer. It must be said, however, that Arch Media Archive's digital sound from 1999 and 2000 live concerts is terrific. With amazing detail and color, and an almost tangible sense of time and place, these are model live recordings.

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