The Cypriot pianist Martino Tirimo's recordings of Debussy's piano music has received much acclaim and this compilation of, for the most part well-known, well-loved pieces demonstrates his sensitivity and empathy with the music. Listen, for instance, not only to how well he captures the elusive light and shimmer of Reflects dans l'eau (Images - Series I) but also how he looks beneath the surface and realises the contrasting nobility and nostalgia implicit in the music. Then, from the same set his reading of Hommage à Rameau is beautifully poised - baroque elegance and refinement - while Mouvement has both lucid, delicate moto perpetuo triplets and strongly emphasised rhythmic propulsion. From Images - Series II there is delicacy again in the gossamer bell-like figures of Cloches à travers les feuilles. Tirimo finely, flowingly, interprets this limpid music just as Debussy directs: 'like a haze in rainbow colours'. Refinement and poise, finely judged dynamics, pacing and nicely poised pauses, together with a subtle hint of the orient lift Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut into something of a rapturous dreamscape while Tirimo's Poissons d'or (goldfish) are supple and playful.
Debussy dedicated his Children's Corner Suite (1906-8) 'To my dear little Chouchou with her father's tender apologies for that which follows.' His little daughter was then four years old. The pieces are uncomplicated but masterly miniatures. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum is a parody of pedantic piano exercises. Jimbo (Chouchou's toy elephant) with his clumsy movements is nicely interpreted with Tirimo investing the gawkiness with endearing sympathy. Serenade for the Doll has a similar doll-like awkwardness but here there is feminine grace and sensitivity as well romance and humour. The Snow is dancing is an enchanting, mesmerising evocation with Tirimo capturing all the soft floating twisting movements of falling snow flakes as well as moments of bleakness. The poignancy of The Little Shepherd (alone, lovelorn?) is heartfelt while the final ever-popular Golliwog's Cake-Walk swings merrily along but with that odd little mid-point reference to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
The programme is completed by a miscellany of short pieces: the mournful slow march Berçeuse héroïque with its muted fanfares; Mazurka tellingly accented; the captivatingly lovely La plus que lente given just the right amount of nostalgic sentiment; then the youthfully energetic Masques with Tirimo responding confidently to its demanding pianism. The melancholy Elégie has an enigmatic, other-worldly quality with its quirky accents and strange atmosphere. The Little Negro is really the fore-runner to the Golliwog's Cake-Walk and an amusing confection in its own right. Page d'album, from 1915, is a slow nostalgic waltz offered towards a fund-raising campaign for wounded soldiers. Morceau de Concours is short (50 seconds) and witty; Hommage à Haydn is a play on that composer's name but it is hardly 'Haydnesque'. It has several contrasting sections from the serious slow waltz to the humorous fleeting arabesques at its close. D'un cahir d'ésquisses appealed very much to Ravel and he gave it its first performance in 1910. It is full of supremely bewitching sounds made exquisite by Tirimo.
Readings of often limpid beauty and delicacy, Tirimo has remarkable affinity for these impressionistic pieces.