Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Michel Beroff Plays Debussy / EMI 3CDs

One of the problems with impressionists solo piano music is that the real magical sonorities and the harmonic richness in Debussy or Ravel's music can be lost in recorded sound. To make matters worse, many pianists do not pay much attention to how tones decay and merge. Some of them over-use pedal, others use it just as a tool to articulate tones and clarify harmonies. They fail to capture the ephemeral, magical atmosphere, very unique to impressionists music. In my opinion, only Sviatoslav Richter knows the secret, and since I listened to his recordings of Debussy's works, none of other pianists had satisfied me. Michelangeli and Pollini too cold and clinical, Roge and Ciccolini too easy-going and lacking in depth, Uchida plays very sensitively but a little wishy-washy, Egorov technically impressive but nothing more. Aimard, Arrau, Gieseking, Thibaudet, Weissenberg, Zimerman - they all play Debussy beautifully, but can not match Richter. Bad news is, Richter had never recorded complete works. Gordon Fergus-Thompson's complete recording has plenty of atmosphere and delicacy, but some pieces suffers from over-pedalling.

My search for complete recording of Debussy's solo piano music had ended there, until I came across Michel Beroff through his awe-inspiring recording of Messiaen's Vingt regards and astounding Prokofiev Concerti recording. Like Richter, Beroff's playing is very masculine with huge dynamic range and pushing technical boundaries (listen to the stunning performance of 12 Etudes & Images), and yet artistically and aesthetically very mature. He also possesses keenest sense for tonal colouring and delicacy (listen to Preludes Book 1&2). I do not agree with his judgment of tempo in Clair de lune (played too fast) and in some other slower pieces, but this set is by far the most satisfying complete set for me and stands repeated listening.

70s' stereo recording is amazingly realistic.

CD1
Preludes Book 1 & 2

CD2
Children's Corner
La plus que lente
Le petit negre
Two Arabesques
Suite Bergamasque
Pour le piano
Estampes

CD3
Images Book 1 & 2
12 Etudes

Recorded in Paris 1970-80

4 comments:

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  2. thanks bayreuth and thank you for continuing that great liszt collection, kind regards alex.

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