Nelson Goerner plays Debussy
This disc was originally released on Zig Zag Territoires, and it has been a great pleasure returning to it, thanks to this reissue on Alpha. One of the most appealing characteristics of Goerner’s approach is his extraordinary care in enunciating Debussy’s rich harmonic vocabulary. In some of the more familiar pieces, generations of routine performances have rendered the harmonic movement sclerotic. Goerner’s sensitively voiced chords explicate and revivify Debussy’s harmonic topography. Each piece emerges fresh, succint and cohesive. No matter how discursive the musical narrative becomes, a sense of inevitability prevails.
The 10-voice chords occurring in ‘Hommage à Rameau’, for instance, are perfectly audible and their harmonic function clear. Goerne’s highly developed harmonic grasp allows him to take the ‘Hommage’ very slowly, yet the musical structure is robust. Goerner’s strategies of touch and colour seem uniquely tailored to each piece. In this most liquid of ‘Reflets dans l’eau’, one marvels at the hushed calm of his ppp, which, despite its whisper, is as clear as a bell.
Of the Études, No 10, ‘for the opposing sonorities’, could be a case study for beautifully calibrated chord voicing, while No 11, ‘for the composite arpeggios’, exists on several sound planes simultaneously. No 12, ‘for the chords’, is possibly the most musically intelligent realisation of this piece I’ve heard. The legato ligatures are perfectly bound; transitions away from and back to tempo primo are brilliantly executed. In Debussy’s centenary year, which has brought so many fine new recordings, it is good to have this marvellous disc restored to the catalogue.