53,454 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Nocturnes (1897-1899) [25:20]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Requiem, Op. 9 (original 1947 version for full orchestra & organ) [39:27]
Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano)
Rundfunkchor Berlin
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Robin Ticciati
rec. 2019, Großer Sendesaal, Haus des Rundfunks, Berlin
LINN CKD623 [65.01]

The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO Berlin) under its music director Robin Ticciati has turned its attention to another all-French programme, the third of the series featuring mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená. Ticciati’s striking programme comprises two masterpieces: Debussy’s Nocturnes, a seminal orchestra work, and one of the most admired settings of the Requiem by Duruflé.
Debussy was inspired to write his triptych Nocturnes after seeing a series of paintings by American artist James McNeill Whistler. Completed some five years after Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, his first masterwork, Nocturnes is one of the composer’s best-loved scores. The three movements – Nuages, Fêtes, and Sirènes with its wordless women’s chorus – seem to describe Debussy’s impressions of light, colours and rhythms suggested by clouds, a vision of a festive scene and the sea. Debussy wrote: “The title ‘Nocturnes’ is to be taken here in a more general and above all in a more decorative sense.”

With unerring assurance, Ticciati and his superb Berlin orchestra develop an atmosphere of tranquility and beauty. There are impressive – extraordinary, yet elusive – shifts in orchestral mood and muted colour, which might convincingly evoke the impressionist, nocturnal feel of a Whistler painting. In Sirènes, the performance of the women’s chorus of the Rundfunkchor Berlin is heavy with equanimity and beauty. A masterwork, Nocturnes has been extremely popular in the recording studio, so the wide choice available can be baffling. My favourite recording remains the stunningly atmospheric performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Claudio Abbado recorded in 1970 at Symphony Hall in Boston, remastered on the Deutsche Grammophon ‘Originals’ series. I have had much pleasure from the 1991 account at Masonic Auditorium in Cleveland, performed by Cleveland Orchestra under Pierre Boulez on Deutsche Grammophon. There is an impressive 1962 account by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Carlo Maria Giulini at Kingsway Hall in London. Still sounding mightily, it was chosen by EMI as part of its ‘Great Recordings of the Century’ series. There is also the glowing 1979 Concertgebouw, Amsterdam account with Bernard Haitink conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra; Philips selected it as one of their 50 Great Recordings. I position the present most worthy recording from Ticciati and the DSO Berlin close to this elevated company.

Duruflé’s Requiem, heavily influenced by Gregorian chant, has characteristics similar to Fauré’s famous Requiem from almost sixty years earlier. Duruflé prepared three different versions of his Requiem. Ticciati is conducting the original 1947 version for full orchestra and organ. (There also is a 1948 arrangement for organ and choir, and later in 1961 an arrangement for soloists and choir with pared down orchestra and organ.) Ticciati does not employ a bass soloist, allocating the part to unison basses.

This is a very sincere performance. Ticciati and his orchestral and choral forces enticingly create a stunning atmosphere of subtle beauty from the first note to the last. My particular favourite movement, the Sanctus (Holy) with such a convincing level of engagement, is extremely moving; it can make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. In Pie Jesu (Merciful Jesus), renowned mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená excels, displaying her slightly dark tone in a controlled, movingly understated performance. There is a noticeable solo cello part expertly played by Valentin Radutiu. Under chorus master Gijs Leenaars, the Rundfunkchor Berlin provide a compelling level of unity and expression combined with sacred consolation and compassion. For some years my principal selection of the Requiem has been the beautifully performed 1959 recording on Erato by Chorale Philippe Caillard et Stéphane Caillat Orchestre de l'Association des Concerts Lamoureux conducted by the composer, with Hélène Bouvier (mezzo-soprano) and Xavier Depraz (bass). Worthy of attention too is the compelling 1985 account on Hyperion, with Matthew Best conducting the Corydon Singers and English Chamber Orchestra with Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano) and Thomas Allen (baritone). In outstanding form, Ticciati and his forces are certainly a match for those accounts.

Linn’s sound engineers, with all their usual expertise, provide satisfying sound. Another bonus is Stephen Walsh’s booklet essay, always an informative and enjoyable read. If the repertoire appeals, there is no reason to hesitate with this exceptional album that enticingly couples two French masterworks.

Michael Cookson

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger