Debussy: Images, Book 1; Estampes; Pour le piano; Ballade; L’Isle joyeuse; Rêverie

COMPOSERS: Debussy
LABELS: Solo
ALBUM TITLE: Debussy
WORKS: Images, Book 1; Estampes; Pour le piano; Ballade; L’Isle joyeuse; Rêverie
PERFORMER: Mark Swartzentruber (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SLR5
Swartzentruber’s recording is often woolly in lower dynamics and registers, yet, paradoxically, becomes brittle when things get exciting. In this respect it recalls the sound of Gieseking’s classic accounts from fifty years ago (EMI), but the similarity ends there. Whereas Gieseking’s intensely dramatic account of the Prelude from Pour le Piano raises a cold-sweat, collapsing gratefully into the assuaging calm of the following Sarabande, Swartzentruber just leaves the listener cold. At his best in the stand-alone pieces, notably the Ballade, Swartzentruber lacks the impetus to convince elsewhere. Planes fares much better, the Blüthner being a revelation in performances that would not disappoint on any instrument. However, neither has the joyful playfulness of Ogawa. Christopher Dingle

Advertisement