Debussy: Images, Etudes I & II

Debussy: Images, Etudes I & II

by Pierre-Laurent Aimard
     
 

If you like your Debussy bathed in a hazy sonic wash, this recording is not for you. Pierre-Laurent Aimard achieves what might be described (admiringly) as Boulezian clarity in these performances, which is not to say they are lacking in atmosphere. In fact, though one can hear every individual note of "Reflets dans l'eau"See more details below

Overview

If you like your Debussy bathed in a hazy sonic wash, this recording is not for you. Pierre-Laurent Aimard achieves what might be described (admiringly) as Boulezian clarity in these performances, which is not to say they are lacking in atmosphere. In fact, though one can hear every individual note of "Reflets dans l'eau" (Reflections in the Water), for example -- every tiny, liquid droplet -- Aimard also provides a marvelous sense of graceful fluidity. And how delightful the intricate rhythmic interplay of "Mouvement" is when one can hear even the fastest notes articulated so cleanly. Perhaps a bit more playfulness might be called for in the first of the Études, but Aimard's elegant, finely focused account is hypnotic nonetheless. Certainly, the pianist meets all of the Études' formidable technical challenges without strain, though it's the elegance and poetry of his playing that impresses most. In recent years, we've been blessed with several revelatory recordings of these strangely beautiful late works -- Mitsuko Uchida's and Jean-Yves Thibaudet's come immediately to mind. Aimard's dexterous and superbly engineered account is not only illuminating but scintillating and hugely enjoyable besides.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Patsy Morita
Audiences recognize Pierre-Laurent Aimard for his expertise in twentieth century music, so it's no surprise to find him recording the music of Debussy. The composers he usually plays (e.g., Messiaen, Bartók, Ligeti) wrote more percussively for the piano than Debussy did, which perhaps explains why Aimard's Debussy isn't as smooth and soft as it could be. He can play quietly and gently, but there is distinctness in each note, no matter how gently or fast he is playing, that prevents the cushiony softness, those waves of color and sound usually expected in Debussy's "Images" and "Études." In "Reflets dans l'eau" there are individual drops of water that don't quite meld into ripples of water. There are also a couple of points in "Reflets" where the melody is lost. Aimard comes closer to blending the notes in "Cloches à travers les feuilles" and "Poissons d'or," but still doesn't quite make it. The separateness and semi-firmness of notes and chords isn't so much of a problem in the "Études," particularly the first book, because they are less about painting pictures and more about studying piano technique. Of the whole disc, the "Étude pour les huit doigts" comes closest to the watercolor sound. Aimard's Debussy is good, but if one were expecting to see a Monet and got a Seurat instead, no matter how beautiful that Seurat is, there would be some degree of disappointment at not seeing what was expected.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/07/2003
Label:
Teldec
UPC:
0685738394029
catalogNumber:
83940
Rank:
236461

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Images (3), for piano, Set I, L. 110  - Claude Debussy  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard
  2. Études (12) for piano in 2 books, L. 136  - Claude Debussy  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard
  3. Images (3), for piano, Set II, L. 111  - Claude Debussy  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard

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