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Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La plus que lente [4:23]
Estampes [14:19]
Children’s Corner [16:53]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Jeux d’eau [5:43]
Gaspard de la Nuit [22:14]
Benjamin Moser (piano)
rec. 19-21 January 2011, Studio 2, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich
OEHMS CLASSICS OC 423 [63:32] 

Benjamin Moser’s recital of French piano music has its ups and downs. There’s a very good Debussy Children’s Corner, with a romp of a cakewalk and sensitive serenade. Ravel’s Jeux d’eau feels mechanical, almost robotic, but approaches a unique sort of perfection. On the other hand we have the first and last selections: Debussy’s La plus que lente and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. The former illustrates Moser’s tendency to enliven impressionistic music with harder, louder chords and sounds - would it be stereotyping to call this Germanic playing? In other places - like some of the Estampes or Golliwog’s Cakewalk - this works well, but in La plus que lente it bothers me.
 
Gaspard has several problems. The tricky opening to “Ondine” is not very well articulated, but the real issues come in “Scarbo”, where the notes are all there but the structure of the piece feels poorly shaped, blocky. It’s the performance of somebody too concerned with hitting the right notes to see across the entire span.
 
Good sound quality, and it’s worth noting that Benjamin Moser is brother to the very talented cellist Johannes. The strongest parts of this recital are: Children’s Corner, the Estampes, maybe Jeux d’eau if it’s to your taste. If you download top-quality audio tracks from eClassical, this is one case where going track-by-track is a good idea.
 
Brian Reinhart

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