One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin


Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive


Cantatas for Soprano

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Images - Book 1 (1905) [15:55]
Images - Book 2 (1907) [14:52]
Preludes - Book 2 (1910-1913) [39:47]
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
rec. 22 April 2011 (Preludes), 25 August 2012 (Images), Henry Wood Hall, London, UK
HYPERION CDA67920 [70:36]

The Canadian pianist and composer Marc-André Hamelin has built up a considerable reputation over the years and has made many recordings notably for Hyperion. This disc is, perhaps surprisingly, his first of Debussy although I understand that there is a live DVD of a recital contemporaneous with the recordings here. The first thing to say on listening to this record is how well he conveys the impressionist feel of these works. In a wet February they transport the listener to a warm and sunny France. This effect is aided by a recording that is first rate.

The Images commence with Reflets dans l’eau and it’s wonderful how a piano can convey the rippling water, seemingly so effortlessly. Hommage ŕ Rameau uses a melody from Jean-Claude Rameau’s 1737 Castor and Pollux but makes the music distinctly Debussy. I was particularly taken by the final Image - the amusing Poissons d’or that depicts the movements of two carp which featured on a Japanese plaque in the composer’s possession.

Debussy had been working on the Preludes from 1907. As with the Chopin Preludes there are 24 in all but there the comparisons end. Here each piece has its own title and there is more distinction between them. Critics more expert than I will no doubt be able to pass comment on Hamelin’s execution but I must say that I found these readings marvellous. They would be difficult to criticise. There is expertise and above all the humour as in General Lavine - eccentric and Hommage ŕ S. Pickwick Esq. with its dramatic opening of God Save the Queen. Then there is the otherworldly nature of pieces like Canope, inspired by jar tops of Egyptian funeral urns that stood on Debussy’s mantelpiece.

There is considerable competition in these works. We start with the famous recording by Walter Gieseking from 1954. That's available in an inexpensive EMI Icon box set (also on Regis), which despite being mono is one many think of as definitive. There are also fine recordings by Monique Haas and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli which I’m delighted to have in my collection. Add to these distinguished versions by Stephen Osborne (Hyperion), Roger Woodward and Craig Sheppard (Images ~ Preludes). This record though seems to me of the highest order and one that I will return to with the greatest pleasure.

David R Dunsmore






 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger