Debussy's Préludes, Books 1 & 2
Krystian Zimerman (pf)
DG 435 773-2GH2 (84‘ · DDD). Buy from Amazon
Two discs, retailing at a high price and playing for a total of 84 minutes? The playing and the recording had better be in the luxury class. Fortunately they are. Zimerman is the very model of a modern virtuoso. His overriding aim is vivid projection of character. His quasi-orchestral range of dynamic and attack, based on close attention to textual detail (there are countless felicities in his observation of phrase-markings) and maximum clarity of articulation, is the means to that end. As a result, he draws out the many connections in this music with the Romantic tradition, especially in pianistic tours de force such as ‘Les collines d’Anacapri’, ‘Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest’ and ‘Feux d’artifice’, which are treated to a dazzling Lisztian élan.
At the other extreme Zimerman displays an exquisite refinement of touch that makes the quieter pieces both evocative and touching. Such sensitively conceived and wonderfully executed Debussy playing stands, at the very least, on a level with a classic recording such as Gieseking’s. The instrument selected is itself something of a star and DG’s recording combines opulence with razor-sharp clarity.