Here’s the first thing to spend your money on in 2018: Available now for pre-order at the cost of about $2/CD for 33 CDs, the prima facie value is clear. But in a market with two other (both 18 CDs) Debussy collections, what is the real value of this new set?
Warner Classic’s owns EMI, so that means the core of this box comes from the EMI vaults, and in the Debussy discography those are essential. The names in here that you want to have and will not find anywhere else include Samson François, Michel Béroff, Gérard Souzay, André Cluytens, Jean Martinon, Michel Plasson, and Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, either as performers or arrangers.
There are vocal pieces and arrangements that are appearing here for the first time, as well as some of Debussy’s own transcriptions of other composer’s works. Other things you will hear for the first time will be the beginning of La Chute de la maison Usher, which he never finished, and Chansons des brises, which were recently discovered.
There is also a recording of Debussy accompanying soprano Mary Garden in the Ariettes oubliées and an exert from Pelléas. Special to this box is Le Martyre de saint Sébastien with the complete d’Annunzio text. Self-recommending in every way, after all it’s the complete body of work by one of the greatest and most important composers in classical music history.