Monday, February 19, 2018 at 01:28PM

"During his years as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris – from 1975 to 1989 – Barenboim made an intensive study of Debussy’s harmonic and rhythmic innovations and his extraordinary palette of tonal colours while preparing a number of the composer’s orchestral works for concert performance. That wealth of experience has also enriched Barenboim’s examination of Debussy’s piano works, enabling him to realize their orchestral dimensions by means of his agility and range of colours at the keyboard. Served by sensuous, grounded, and powerful playing, the pianist becomes a gripping storyteller who masterfully sustains the music’s broad arches and enlivens each piece with immediate intensity and a potent sense of atmosphere.

The album’s repertoire reflects Debussy’s compositional finesse and versatility. Alongside the delicate musical images of Estampes, the programme includes one of his best-known works, “Clair de lune” from the “Suite bergamasque”, which Barenboim also considers “one of the absolute masterpieces.” The leisurely waltz “La plus que lente” unfolds with subtle irony, followed by the halting, delicate melancholy of the “Elégie”, composed in 1915. The album is crowned by the first book of “Préludes” dating from 1909-10 and, on account of its poetic expressive power, occupying a unique place in Debussy’s output. The composer translated the literary associations that sparked his imagination into widely contrasting musical dream images that enchant us with their thrilling virtuosity or tender lyricism. Barenboim recorded “Préludes I” in 1998 at the Institut Pere Mata in Reus, Catalonia and has chosen to include the collection here alongside the works he recorded in Berlin in the autumn of 2017." - Universal Music Canada

Article originally appeared on Soundscapes - 572 College Street Toronto (http://www.soundscapesmusic.com/).
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