Maazel: Debussy La Mer + Scriabin Poem of Ecstacy - Decca 6.42474
Jacket EX / LP NM / German pressing
This outstanding LP – a lovely collector’s copy – from Decca (6.42474, German Teldec · Telefunken-Decca pressing, blue label, stereo) features conductor Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra’s high-octane accounts of Debussy’s La Mer and Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstacy Op. 54, both recorded in the spacious acoustics of Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, the former on 4 October 1977 and the latter on 10 May 1978 (producer: James Mallinson / engineer: Colin Moorfoot).
Wrote the critic M.H. in his review for the September 1979 issue of The Gramophone: “Faced with too many good versions of some works a reviewer can reach a state of philosophical equilibrium, unable to choose between them, and there was a danger of that here. On DG, Karajan shapes "De l'aisbe a midi sur la mer", the first movement from La mer with a watchmaker's precision; each detail is lovingly cultivated, but the effect is of a polished object. With Boulez (on CBS) the music becomes an experience, and not just becausesuperior recording brings it closer: each detail, every dynamic contrast, has musical meaning. On Philips, Haitink seems more remote, although the music has as much power as with Boulez, and both interpretations have the sea in them. Sometimes one appears preferable, sometimes the other, Haitink, for example, obtaining the truer balance of solo violin and woodwind at fig. 6, Boulez getting the strings better into the picture during the last few bars. There are many sharply focused touches in Maazel's new recording, also, such as the cymbal whispers before fig. 9, and this is another superfine performance. And yet, although I like it better after several hearings, it does not seize my imagination as do Boulez and Haitink.
“Karajan interprets "Jeux de vagues", the second movement of La mer, with extreme refinement, and he does best here; it would be hard to imagine a smoother account of the final pages, say from fig. 39. Boulez again provides a more intense experience and he is far more ardent than Karajan. Haitink has more life here, too: note the propulsive effect of repeated wind chords at several points. Maazel has some fine moments, also, such as his shaping of the horn ensemble before fig. 21, but he has less character than Haitink or Boulez. Karajan turns "Dialogue du vent et de Ia mer" into a study in orchestral finesse, and she result is enjoyable as such. It ends in a blase of triumph yet without approaching the unleashing of elemental forces suggested by Boulez and Haitink. Notice the menace of Boulez's opening, for example. Haitink is just as full-blooded--if that is the right term for music that has been well said to have no people in it—but everything again happens at a greater distance. Maazel starts the beautiful fig. 46 melody too briskly. He is the best recorded, yet there really is little to choose in terms of sound quality, or between the levels of orchestral playing.
“Scriabin's Poime is not a universal favourite and we are lucky to have another recording. Abbado, on DG, has the woodwind balanced too far forward, and the important solo trumpet is rather brassily assertive. On Decca, Mehta gives a good, clear performance, with superior trumpeting. The new Maazel seems best, his balance of parts at the first allegro rolando, or later at the moderato avec deuce, being exactly right. And his more discreet solo trumpet, on entering, does a proper crescendo from piano to forte.”
Incidentally, the striking cover photo was taken by Harro Wolter, Hamburg. There are superb liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket – provided in German only – by Jean Meuchtelbach.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is EXCELLENT. There is minor bumping/wear at corners, as well as some slight instances of creasing, but really that is all. There are no seamsplits, bends, owners’ markings, or other defects, and the album remains solid, bright, glossy, and very attractive. Overall, this rates as an excellent collector’s copy.
The condition of the LP itself is near-MINT and the playback is outstanding – overall, this rates as a superb collector’s copy.