Friday, 4 November 2011

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, November 2011)

DEBUSSY Piano Music Vol.5
BIS 1405 / Rating ****1/2

For the finale volume of Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa’s traversal of Claude Debussy’s complete piano music, she covers the earliest works from his teenaged years to the threshold of greatness. His unofficial Opus One is Danse Bohemienne (1880), composed when Debussy was a tutor to children in the household of Madam von Meck, Tchaikovsky’s patron. It is an eclectic, not particularly distinguished salon piece with period charm. Also in the genteel spirit of the Belle Epoque are the popular Two Arabesques, Reverie, Danse (Tarantelle Styrienne) and lesser known Nocturne and Ballade, dating from the early 1890s.

Beginning to find a distinctive voice are Pour le piano (completed 1901) and Suite Bergamasque (1905). Both are sets of neoclassical dances and movements, but coloured with Debussy’s inimitable touch and penchant for light and shade. The familiar Clair de lune from the latter is one of his first so-called “impressionist” pieces, an evocative nocturne. As with her other recordings, Ogawa lovingly colours each of the short pieces, rendering this an excellent introduction and primer for the genius of Debussy.

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