Debussy: Études; Estampes; L’isle joyeuse

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Études; Estampes; L’isle joyeuse
PERFORMER: Martino Tirimo (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RRC 1091 Reissue (1988)
This attractively packaged reissue of Martino Tirimo’s 1988 recording of Debussy’s Études deserves a positive welcome. Tirimo is an imaginative interpreter offering many poetic insights into these challenging works. He is especially good at delineating the direction of inner voice parts in some of the slower studies, and at ensuring that preoccupations with technical difficulties play second fiddle to musical concerns. Tirimo manages to create a more sensuous tonal palette than many rival performers, though sometimes the more percussive and virtuosic writing stretches him to the very limit and results in some heavy-handed and lumpy playing.


While Tirimo’s disc offers the added inducement of fitfully atmospheric accounts of Estampes and L’isle joyeuse, in the Études he faces formidable competition from Pollini (DG) and Uchida (Philips). Uchida’s performance offers a far wider range of colours and greater characterisation, from delicate quasi-Oriental contemplation to neo-Bartókian ferocity. Overall, Tirimo may be more scrupulous in following some of Debussy’s instructions, but it is Uchida who constantly reminds us of the extraordinarily searching outlook of these remarkable pieces. Erik Levi