Handel, Debussy, Johann Strauss II, Ravel, Vivaldi, Smetana, Chopin, Schubert, Tchaikowsky, Delius
various instrumentalists and orchestras
DECCA 466 705-2
TPT 1:14: 33
reviewed by Neville Cohn
If you’ve come home stressed after a day in the salt mines, this compilation might well work wonders. Put your feet up, place slices of cold cucumber over your eyes, take the phone off the hook and lose yourself in some of the most soothing music ever written. Each of the fourteen tracks has some association with water in various states. Feel the tension in your neck muscles lessen as you listen to Jorge Bolet in Liszt’s arrangement for piano of Schubert’s lied Auf dem Wasser zu singen. Unhurried, glowing-toned, haunting, it’s beyond conventional criticism. So, too, is Pascal Roge. He is magical in Debussy’s Reflections in the Water with its rippling, filigree-delicate arabesques. And in the most famous of all works inspired by microscopic molecules consisting each of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen – Handel’s Water Music – Sir Neville Marriner and his Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields lavish care on three extracts from the suite. The Hornpipe is particularly pleasing; it bristles with pomp. Also included are The Blue Danube, an excerpt from Swan Lake, Ravel’s Jeux d’eau, Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude and Delius’ Aquarelle No 2. Drawn from recordings made between 1968 and 1981, sound quality is uniformly fine – in this sense, the recordings have worn well – apart from some slight distortion in string tone in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s account of Smetana’s Ma Vlast.