Debussy/Koechun

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COMPOSERS: Debussy/Koechun
LABELS: Pan
WORKS: Prelude a L’apres-midi d’un faune; Petite suite; Six epigraphes antiques; Symphony; Suite; Sonatine
PERFORMER: Adrienne Soos, Ivo Haag (piano duet)
CATALOGUE NO: 510 076 DDD (distr. Vanderbeeke & Imrie)
With its alert playing and soft clarity of sound, this collection brings quiet pleasures and stimulating discoveries. The pubescent and mature voices of Debussy are offset by that of one of the mystery men of his generation. Nearly everybody who goes exploring Koechlin finds treasure, and the light, beautifully crafted Suite will particularly reward admirers of Faure’s Dolly. Its earthier finale points towards the Sonatine, an intensive and epigrammatic set of pieces that sound as though Satie had a say.

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Debussy’s Petite suite is rhetorical and conventional by comparison, though it makes a more direct impact with its boldly worked melodies. The subde high points on his part come with die brief, tantalising Epigraphes, supreme examples of saying much with few notes. Curiosity value is the main asset of the rest. Debussy’s youthful one-movement oudine of a symphony, which he never orchestrated, sounds oddly like Brahms when it begins, but proves to be melody-led in Russian style.

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Two chunks of the cantata that won him die Prix de Rome get closer to the real thing, while Triomphe de Bacchus is an amiable, boisterous expedition to the lower slopes of divine frenzy. Robert Maycock