Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 3

Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 3

by Francois-Joël Thiollier
     
 

Debussy was once my favorite composer. That was back in my formative teen years in the early 60s. I especially loved "The Engulfed Cathedral" (still do; it's one of the greatest masterpieces ever written for piano). It's not exactly that I've become a lapsed Debussyan today: I've always retained a fondness for his rather subdued and subtle Impressionism, even through… See more details below

Overview

Debussy was once my favorite composer. That was back in my formative teen years in the early 60s. I especially loved "The Engulfed Cathedral" (still do; it's one of the greatest masterpieces ever written for piano). It's not exactly that I've become a lapsed Debussyan today: I've always retained a fondness for his rather subdued and subtle Impressionism, even through periods of genuine infatuation with the neurotic ecstasies and dark depression of Mahler, with the high drama and "sex-and-violence" allure of Verdi, with the ingenious facility and sophisticated innocence of Mozart (yes, "sophisticated innocence" is probably an oxymoron, but in Mozart's case it applies), and finally, I've managed to hold on to the French master, if tenuously, through an enduring devotion to the brash innovation and seductive lyricism of Prokofiev. Perhaps I, like many listeners, am simply attracted to dramatic music, music on the extremes, music that draws attention to itself. Debussy is all subtlety and finesse, painting exquisite water-color images on his musical canvas, never adulterating or embellishing his scenes, always etching in your mind notes that could be labeled, "all natural, nothing artificial added." And yet ironically, his world sounds ethereal, mysterious--yes, artificial. Any pianist tackling his music must be able to convey this sense of lofty mystification, of dreamy aloofness, and without garish effects. Francois-Joel Thiollier passes muster, though his dynamics at times seem a bit tilted toward louder markings. Even so, his interpretive instincts are usually on target: he renders the three pieces in the first book of Images, for instance, with sensitivity and attention to detail and nuance. True, there have been some impressive versions of this music, recently from Thibaudet on London, and a few years back from the late Paul Jacobs on Elektra/Nonesuch. But, of course, Naxos has the trump card of a very low price compared with the competition. And considering the generally high quality of the readings here (indeed, both books of Images, as well as Estampes rank with the better versions) and the presence of few misfires (La plus que lente sounds brusque one moment then saccharine the next), this issue must be considered a worthy competitor. Overall, then, this disc can certainly be recommended, especially in light of Naxos's typically enlightening notes and vivid sound. If the other issues in this series are on this level, I'd say this would certainly be a fine way to collect Debussy's piano music.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/1997
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0730099429221
catalogNumber:
8553292
Rank:
218981

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Images (3), for piano, Set I, L. 110  - Claude Debussy  - Francois-Joël Thiollier
  2. Images (3), for piano, Set II, L. 111  - Claude Debussy  - Francois-Joël Thiollier
  3. Estampes, for piano, L. 100  - Claude Debussy  - Francois-Joël Thiollier
  4. Images inédites (3), for piano, L. 87  - Claude Debussy  - Francois-Joël Thiollier
  5. La plus que lente, waltz for piano (or orchestra), L. 121  - Claude Debussy  - Francois-Joël Thiollier
  6. L'isle joyeuse, for piano, L. 106  - Claude Debussy  - Francois-Joël Thiollier

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