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Two Arabesques (1891) [7:39]
Children’s Corner (1908) [16:01]
Images Books 1 and 2 (1905-7) [28:10]
Clair de Lune (1905) [4:36]
L’Isle Joyeuse (1904) [5:47]
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, May, November 2007
EMI CLASSICS 5002722 [62:27]
young Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski is already becoming
something of a household name to classical lovers, with a
number of well received CDs as well as numerous appearances
on Radio 3. I still greatly enjoy playing his first EMI disc
of all-Russian items (Scriabin, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and
Stravinsky), well planned and excitingly executed. His following
discs of Rachmaninov and Chopin were also very warmly greeted,
and I’m sure this new all-Debussy will do equally well.
venue for the recording, as with the others, is Potton Hall,
a firm favourite these days. The engineers give Trpčeski
a close, warm and intimate sound which, coupled with the
rounded tone of the instrument, makes for comfortable home
listening. The playing also displays these traits, and if
you want the crystalline clarity of Zimerman or the razor-sharp
fireworks of Zoltan Kocsis, this may not be for you. To be
fair, the music chosen generally suits Trpčeski’s approach,
but as we know with Debussy, a whole different element can
be teased out if the pianist wishes.
like his simple charm in the Two Arabesques, and he does
not go for any vulgar point scoring here or elsewhere. They
are supple yet free flowing, without any rhythmic distortion.
Children’s Corner starts beautifully and, again, with a disarming
naturalness of phrasing. ‘Dr. Gradus’ is more modérément than animé,
something which shows how this piece has (rightly) stopped
being a virtuoso encore. ‘Jimbo’s Lullaby’ is subtly nuanced – Trpčeski
really does go from a piano opening to pianissimo for
those little whole-tone stabs, showing how well he can control
the gradations of colour. I doubt anyone will complain of
a lack of character in ‘Golliwog’s Cake Walk’, which swaggers
along and cocks a snook at passers-by.
two books of ‘Images’ are also warmly presented without any
lack of focus. Trpčeski really underlines Debussy’s
harmonic shifts in ‘Reflets dans L’eau’ and lets his technique
rip in ‘Mouvement’, which maybe doesn’t quite touch Kocsis’s
sheer brilliance of execution but has other virtues. I winced
a bit when I saw the sleeve’s timing for Trpčeski’s ‘Hommage à Rameau’ at
3:22 against Kocsis’s 8:14, before realizing it’s a plain
old mistake and should read 6:39 – still quite a bit quicker.
reckon ‘Claire de Lune’ is there for the popular vote, and
it’s extremely well done, but why not give us the rest of ‘Suite
bergamasque’ – there’s plenty of spare room for it!
disc rounds off superbly with ‘L’Isle Joyeuse’, a total masterpiece
and given a performance fully worthy of its greatness. I
like especially the phrasing of the ‘big’ tune, which emerges
naturally rather than put into neon lights.
marvellous all-round effort, then, which will no doubt cement
Trpčeski’s considerable reputation still further. Debussy
expert Roger Nichols is not given much booklet space to illuminate
us further on the music, but achieves typically stimulating
see also review by Dan Morgan
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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