- Préludes (12) for piano, Book I, L. 117
- Images (3), for piano, Set I, L. 110
- Images (3), for piano, Set II, L. 111
Is Michelangeli's Debussy as good as they say? Could anything be that good? After all, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli's '70s recordings of Debussy's "Images and Préludes, Book 1," were hailed in their time as revolutionary, masterly, and uniquely compelling, and the encomiums have kept on through every subsequent re-release. In this 2005 re-release on Deutsche Grammophon's "Originals" series, the listener is asked again, is Michelangeli's Debussy as good as they say? Oh, yes, yes. Yes, they are. Michelangeli's command is complete: every nuance sounds in his playing. Michelangeli's colors are clear and lucid, but iridescent and luminous. Michelangeli's conception has the scope and scale of epic poetry, with each "Prélude" its own ode. Michelangeli's execution is Olympian: despite the passion he brings to his playing, it is the music that resounds in the Michelangeli's Debussy. However, about that sound: while the sound Deutsche Grammophon gave Michelangeli in the '70s was pristine and crystalline, and while the sound of the 1978 "Préludes" is remastered with such fidelity that the piano is more real than most real pianos, it still has to be said that the 1971 "Images" is remastered with such harshness that the piano sounds pained every time the dynamics rise above fortissimo. The only thing in this world as good as this recording of Michelangeli's Debussy would be Michelangeli's other recording of Debussy with a sublime "Children's Corner" and a transcendent "Préludes, Book 2."