Virgin Classics assembled an all-star team of chamber musicians to put together this five-disc set of Gabriel Fauré's complete music for strings and piano. Only the String Quartet, Op. 121, by the Quatuor Ebène, was previously released. Fauré's chamber music - with the exception of a couple of short works for cello and piano - isn't as well known outside of France as that of Debussy and Ravel, although the two piano quartets are widely admired.
Dive into impressionistic musical landscapes inspired by the calming beauty of nature and unwind with Debussy’s most relaxing piano melodies. Debussy’s captivating soundscapes performed by legendary Debussy interpreters Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Mitsuko Uchida alongside recordings by a younger generation of performers including Hélène Grimaud, Rafał Blechacz and Seong-Jin Cho.
As a conductor, Daniel Barenboim has had a distinguished history with the orchestral music of Debussy, but this is his first full-album foray into the French composer’s solo piano works. It runs the gamut of Debussy’s Impressionist colour palette, from the shimmering “Clair de Lune”—played with the subtlety and expressive freedom that Barenboim admires so much in Debussy’s own piano-roll recordings—to the restless, swirling prelude “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest.” The simple, hymn-like “La fille aux cheveux de lin,” meanwhile, shines anew under Barenboim’s fingers.
These classic performances belong in the collection of anyone who cares about Debussy's piano music. Certain creators and re-creators become synonymous. Beethoven and Schnabel, Chopin and Rubinstein at once spring to mind. Yet in the entire history of performance I doubt whether there has ever existed a more subtle or golden thread than that between Debussy and Demus. French jibes about the reduction of Debussy’s clarity to a charming but essentially decorative opalescence are little more than the bitter fruit of envy, of an exclusivity, that finds an Фгыекшфт pianist’s supreme mastery of their greatest composer’s elusive heart and idiom hard to stomach.
Tatiana Shebanova, who also features in the Fryderyk Chopin Institute’s on-going Real Chopin series (see review special, p83), gets her own complete, modern instrument (as opposed to Real Chopin’s historic instruments) cycle on the Polish label Dux. Arranged in opus order, it presents a satisfying survey of Chopin’s development, and it spares the listener from (for example) a lack of variety in the usual hour-long sequence of waltzes.
On this specially-priced 8-CD set Zoltan Kocsis performs the complete solo piano music of his fellow Hungarian, B la Bart k. Completed in 2001, these critically acclaimed, definitive performances are the benchmark against which all others are considered.