ALBUM TITLE: Debussy
WORKS: Deux Arabesques; Children’s Corner; Images, Books 1 & 2; L’Isle Joyeuse; Suite bergamasque – Claire de lune
PERFORMER: Simon Trpceski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 500 2722
Simon Trpceski’s three earlier discs, featuring Russian repertoire and Chopin, have rightly been praised to the skies for their bravura, insight and virtuosity. Hopes for a similarly impressive first foray into Debussy are only partially fulfilled. There is certainly no faulting his technique in this attractive programme, as is made emphatically clear in the final romp through L’Isle joyeuse. TrpΩeski also enjoys experimenting with the pedal to create clouds of perfumed sound, such as in ‘Cloches à travers les feuilles’.Nonetheless, the sudden jolt of speed when the right hand enters is symptomatic of why this disc ultimately falls some way short of competing with those by the best Debussy pianists. TrpΩeski has a tendency to tier his tempos and dynamics, not all the time by any means, but often enough at key moments to undermine the overall effect. Easing the tempo in the answering phrase of the first Arabesque is not the wildest idea applied to Debussy, but here it seems directionless and the piece is becalmed when it has barely begun. Children’s Corner is tempered most of all by this paint-by-numbers approach. Whereas Noriko Ogawa skips playfully through ‘Dr Gradus ad Parnassum’ (BIS), TrpΩeski rattles away, while ‘Jimbo’ is a decidedly fleet-footed, mildly impatient toy elephant.Much of Debussy’s piano writing is essentially contrapuntal, with lines weaving around each other. Marvellous though much of Trpceski’s playing is, he lacks Ogawa’s ability to mould these independent strands, making them ebb and flow while keeping a grasp of the whole.