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CD Review

Claude Debussy

Piano Music

  • Préludes – Book I
  • L'Isle joyeuse
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Deutsche Grammophon 445187-2
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Pollini, not surprisingly, is quite compelling in these Debussy masterworks. As his supporters know, he is generally a straightforward but powerfully dramatic pianist, not afraid to apply muscle. But here, of course, one must invest the music with a fair share of subtlety and nuance, qualities this pianist summons in nearly perfect measure on this recording. While Casadesus, Jacobs and a few others have turned in convincing work in this repertory in the past, Pollini achieves high marks, as well. Some might prefer a little more delicacy (Les collines d'Anacapri may be a little too aggressive) and more sensuality (La cathédrale engloutie sounds a bit calculated).

Still, the overall recital is excellent, as my caveats ultimately involve minor flaws. I could spend paragraphs on Pollini's interpretive insights and technical acumen here. In fact, his playing is sensational, and DG's sound reproduction is vivid and natural. One might only complain about the 43-minute timing. In the end, though, this must be counted a most desirable disc for not only Pollini and Debussy mavens, but for those seeking great piano music performed by a great pianist.

Copyright © 2000, Robert Cummings