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Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Images - Book 2 (1907) [14.14]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Suite in A minor (Premier livre de pièces de clavecin) (1706) [24.42]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Images - Book 1 (1905) [16.12]
Sabine Weyer (piano)
rec. 20-22 February 2015, Tonzauber Studio, Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria

On Austrian label Orlando Records Sabine Weyer’s first commercial CD presents a programme of solo piano works by Rameau and Debussy, composers born some 180 years apart. A connection between the two is Debussy’s second piece titled Hommage à Rameau from Book 1 of Images. Luxembourg-born Weyer studied at the Flemish Conservatory, Brussels and in 2015 began teaching at the Conservatoire de Luxembourg.

We hear both books of Debussy’s Images for solo piano that he wrote in 1906 and 1907 respectively. Weyer mixes Debussy’s textures in a rich and broad palette. Every piece warmly captivates. I felt that I was encountering these two books for the first time. The cascading sonorities of Reflets dans l’eau (Reflections in the water) from Book 1 have all the atmosphere of an expressionist painting. From Book 2 Cloches à travers les feuilles (Bells heard through the leaves) is a stunning prism of iridescent light and colour. It feels like a compact landscape portrait. The following piece Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (The moon sets over the temple ruins) is introspective - even reticent. Weyer’s sensitive playing is warmer and more atmospheric than my principal choices in the Images: Walter Gieseking, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Vlado Perlemuter yet without their levels of insight, finesse and idiomatic brilliance.

Positioned between the two books of Images is the Rameau’s Suite in A minor from his harpsichord collection Premier Livre de Pièces de Clavecin published in 1706. Providing an agreeable contrast to the Debussy each of the nine Rameau pieces feels crisp and elegant with expressive tonal colouring, overall making a strong case for using the piano rather than the harpsichord.

Technicians have provided an attractively warm sound, reasonably clear with adequate presence. Curiously the short biography of Weyer is given in German, French and English but the English is dropped for a short article about the actual works. Another minor grumble is the positioning of the first book of Images after the second. Where timings are concerned at less than an hour this CD represents relatively poor value. Nevertheless this recital is most impressively performed and has hardly been off my player since it arrived.

Michael Cookson



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