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Who is the best Debussy interpreter? (Read 66221 times)

Offline chong777

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Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
« on: December 05, 2007, 05:45:02 AM »
I do not know many Debussy interpreters. Who plays Debussy's piano music best?

Offline arensky

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #1 on: December 05, 2007, 09:16:54 AM »
Michelangeli.
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #2 on: December 05, 2007, 09:46:51 AM »
Aren't there some recordings of Debussy playing Debussy.  Wasn't one of Debussy's students a sort of 'passer on of secrets.'  I'm trying to think of his/her name.  I think it was  a her.  And, she taught at the Paris Conservatory.

Offline Nightscape

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #3 on: December 06, 2007, 09:34:41 AM »
Michelangeli lacks spontaneity - sometimes it sparkles with brilliance but other times it sounds overly rehearsed.  Michelangeli is best in certain pieces.  I like Laurent-Aimard for the Etudes, and the newer recording of the complete works by Gordon Fergus-Thompson is really amazing too (especially if you like some of the more obscure piano pieces).

Many will recommend Walter Gieseking as well, and you may like him but personally his interpretations do not sit well with me.  You also have to contend with terrible audio quality, which really ruins the mood for me - I would much rather hear Debussy played on the beautiful and sonorous tones of a piano and not a piece of sheet metal placed in an ajoining room with the door closed and static playing.

Offline nyonyo

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #4 on: December 06, 2007, 03:08:19 PM »

Many will recommend Walter Gieseking as well, and you may like him but personally his interpretations do not sit well with me. 

I agree with you. His interpretation can be correct if many piano experts said so, but his playing just does not sound beautiful to me.....

Offline counterpoint

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #5 on: December 06, 2007, 06:00:15 PM »
Michel Beroff

Yuri Egorov
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Offline dnephi

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #6 on: December 06, 2007, 06:21:06 PM »
Gieseking without a doubt for me.
For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

Offline gymnopedist

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #7 on: December 06, 2007, 10:28:53 PM »
I love Richters recording of ...le vent dans le plaine, so atmospheric. Michelangeli is nice as well, though i have to agree about the occasional over-rehearsed feeling... Debussys widow said that Gieseking was the pianist whose style of playing most resembled her husbands, and i think that there are real gems among his recordings, in spite of the recording quality.

Too bad Debussys daughter died young, Marguerite Long (i think) said she had learned quite a few things from her dad.
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Offline retrouvailles

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #8 on: December 06, 2007, 10:36:43 PM »
Pierre-Laurent Aimard's Debussy is probably the best I have heard. His etudes, preludes, and images are sublime.

Offline jakev2.0

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #9 on: December 07, 2007, 12:55:49 AM »
Michelangeli, definitely.

Offline soliloquy

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #10 on: December 07, 2007, 01:49:18 AM »
Phillipe Entremont.


No question.

Offline jlba3

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #11 on: October 05, 2008, 11:21:15 PM »
Arrau is sublime  ;)

Offline dnephi

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #12 on: October 05, 2008, 11:27:56 PM »
William Kapell. 

Quite simply put.
For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

Offline communist

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #13 on: October 06, 2008, 01:24:58 AM »
Sviatoslav Richter
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Offline alessandro

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #14 on: October 06, 2008, 06:02:42 PM »
Sviatoslav Richter
I love Richters recording of ...le vent dans le plaine, so atmospheric.

Although it is strange, I often feel his Bach or his Rachmaninoff kind of rude and harsh (which is nice in some of Rachmaninoff's Preludes, or Bach's preludium), I also was totally 'well I don't find the words for it', totally...  I heard a recording (a double CD 'In Memoriam') of Richter playing Debussy and it was so ambient, atmospheric, dreamy, a truly wonderful, unforgettable experience, the best interpretation I heard till now...


Offline ptyrrell

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #15 on: October 07, 2008, 11:04:23 AM »
I like Pascal Roge

Offline j.s. bach the 534th

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #16 on: October 07, 2008, 11:02:56 PM »
An 8th grader I know named Jeremy...............................

Offline steza

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #17 on: October 08, 2008, 07:19:31 AM »
Walter Gieseking without a shadow of doubt!

Offline thelastetude

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #18 on: October 13, 2008, 04:56:48 PM »
Vladimir Horowitz- I have several recordings of him, especially w/ his Preludes and several pieces in his last recording and they are AMAZING.

His French and Italian (Scarlatti, Clemente, etc.) interpretations are second to none, easily rivaling the top performers of our time

Offline birba

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #19 on: October 13, 2008, 07:26:45 PM »
Gieseking, Michelangeli.  But here, again, we confront the same argument we had with Beethoven.  What is a Debussy interpreter?  Etheral tone?  Pedaling mastery?  He is certianly played differently then Beethoven or Gershwin - BUT there are as many ways to approach his music as there are sublime pianists.  Rubenstein was a superb Debussy player, but not considered an expert, as such.  He was just a first-class musician and pianist who knew how to approach different styles and periods.  It's really a hard nut to crack.

Offline kaligon

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #20 on: January 02, 2009, 03:16:50 AM »
Michelangeli.  Stands head and shoulders above the rest, in my opinion, for both technique and beauty.  No matter how many times I hear his Debussy recordings, the next time they still seem fresh and inspired and gorgeous.

Offline communist

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #21 on: January 02, 2009, 02:32:44 PM »
myself  ;)
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Offline iumonito

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #22 on: January 02, 2009, 05:17:16 PM »
How intersting; lots of very contrasting names thrown out there.

Most of the Debussy recordings available are made from rolls, and my impression is that they were not done very artistically.  There are electric recordings of Debussy accompanying on the piano, but I have not heard those.  They should be very interesting.

Kapell and Horowitz's reading is clear and striking; Benedetti Michelangeli, Arrau, and Richter's much more atmospheric.  These five play romantic Debussy.  More recent exponents of this approach include Bunin and (somewhat surprisingly) Pollini.

Then you have Gieseking, Robert Schmitz, and later Krystian Zimerman, Martin Jones, and Ziggy Weissenberg, all of whom project an anti-romantic, highly objective Debussy.  I would put Pierre-Laurent Aimard here.  There is no question he is a rock of a player, although for my taste, I don't feel anything when I hear him in this repertoire (unlike in his Ligeti and Messiaen).

I personally love Claude Frank's Debussy, which I find very beautiful; romantic in feeling but not sentimental in expression.  Bolet (my favorite, although he recorded so little of it0 has a little disk of preludes, played very much in this spirit.  I would say this somewhat neo-classical approach (which is romantic in content and emotional intensity, but classical in proportinality, elegance, and grace) can be traced back to Cortot.  I would say Entremont and Paul Jacobs would go in this bucket as well.

Then you have Rubinstein (and now Barenboim), somewhere between the romantic and the neoclassical.

I think choosing one or the other as the ultimate is a little parochial; after all, it is a matter of taste - and in Debussy (in words of Massenet: an "enigma") one may resonate strongly with one aspect of his music and not at all with another.



Money does not make happiness, but it can buy you a piano.  :)

Offline indutrial

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #23 on: January 02, 2009, 05:43:27 PM »
I have a bunch of Debussy discs from Naxos 'complete piano' series that I rather like. The Martin Jones set I've got is nice, but sounds very academic as opposed to the Naxos pianist (can't remember the name).

Offline birba

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #24 on: January 03, 2009, 08:38:27 PM »
"Ziggy" Weisenberg?! - How did that come out of Alexis?  Or is it his nephew, brother or lover?

Offline minor9th

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #25 on: January 03, 2009, 09:43:10 PM »
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's Chandos CDs are getting rave reviews from most critics. I haven't heard his Debussy recordings yet, but his Maurice Ohana Etudes CD reveals him to be a formidable pianist.

Offline thorn

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #26 on: January 04, 2009, 12:30:18 AM »
Aren't there some recordings of Debussy playing Debussy.  Wasn't one of Debussy's students a sort of 'passer on of secrets.'  I'm trying to think of his/her name.  I think it was  a her.  And, she taught at the Paris Conservatory.

the name that comes to mind is Marguerite Long- I know she studied with Ravel but not sure about Debussy?

I love Ogawa's recordings- particularly the Images.

Offline birba

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #27 on: January 04, 2009, 07:50:36 AM »
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's Chandos CDs are getting rave reviews from most critics. I haven't heard his Debussy recordings yet, but his Maurice Ohana Etudes CD reveals him to be a formidable pianist.
Maybe his recordings, but he got a scathing review at the Kennedy center.  They said he wasn't even near technically up to par with op. 106.  You can read the review in Google.

Offline shasta

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #28 on: January 06, 2009, 02:59:38 PM »
I second Pascal Roge.
"self is self"   - i_m_robot

Offline ivanapsc

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #29 on: January 07, 2009, 12:19:21 PM »
Walter Gieseking

Offline thalberg

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #30 on: January 09, 2009, 03:22:03 AM »
Michelangeli.

Good call.  I add my vote to this.

Offline gerryjay

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #31 on: January 09, 2009, 06:08:08 AM »
the video of michelangeli playing the first book of preludes it's one of my favorite music moments.

another record that i love is uchida's douze etudes.

it's interesting to notice that debussy's performance did reach a high-standard level, and it's difficult to see a serious pianist (from undergraduate students to major recitalists) that doesn't have at least a pair of well-played preludes. i would only regret some pasteurization, i mean, it seems to have exist an overwhelming rule above one's decisions of touch, speed, pedalling.

best!

Offline sitbon09

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #32 on: May 11, 2010, 12:26:23 PM »
Check out Debussy Complete Works for Piano volumes by Jean Efflam Bavouzet.  Received Editor's choice Gramphone magazine.  I have to agree.  Great listening!

Offline kepler

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #33 on: July 23, 2010, 06:24:13 AM »
I like Paul Jacob's Debussy's Etudes. Krystian Zimerman's performance of the preludes is great; i think it won a gramophon award. Jean yves thibaudet plays the images on youtube, which i think are amazing.

Offline harmonybear

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #34 on: June 29, 2012, 06:28:38 AM »
I haven't heard a performance or recording of 'Poissons d'or' that even comes close to Gieseking's. I would say the same of his 'Jardins sous la plouie.' Gieseking lets us experience the naturalistic flow and sweep of Debussy's atmospheres by attending with scientific precision to the score. That precision is tempered by extraordinarily supple technique. No detail or algorithmic complexity is blurred. The wisdom that Gieseking imparts to us is that Debussy is surely a 'romantic' in the sense of seducing and enchanting the listener. But the romance and the seduction do not and cannot come from playing his music with overly effusive expression. The design, clearly revealed or subtly exposed, does the magic. To my ears Debussy accomplishes two miracles simultaneously: he portrays (draws, paints, photographs, films . . .) aspects of natural events that are powerfully evocative. And, at the same time, he expresses the human sensations that arise from seeing the tail of a goldfish flash beneath rippling water; our surprise and wonder in experiencing ephemeral beauty. Gieseking balances those objective and subjective worlds better than anyone I've heard yet.

Vis-a-vis another writer's complaints about recording fidelity: I'd love to hear Gieseking as clearly as if he were playing a great piano in my living room but I have no problem hearing his artistry and, indeed, I am easily transported through what is now considered to be a low-tech and noisy medium.

So, in short, as many others expressed: Gieseking, no question.

Offline 49410enrique

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #35 on: June 29, 2012, 03:40:45 PM »
i have an overlapping favorite for this catty, Gordon Fegus-Thompson, sometimes depending on the particular performance pierre laurent aimard but as an overall pick my vote goes to Thompson. He's also my go to guy (modern) for Scriabin (I like Sofrinsky for historical recordings/vintage).

Offline fftransform

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #36 on: June 30, 2012, 01:17:43 AM »
Entremont and Lortie.

Offline harkin

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Re: Who is the best Debussy interpreter?
«Reply #37 on: July 05, 2012, 04:39:47 AM »
Could never choose one as best.

Among my favorites:

Sviatoslav Richter
Paul Jacobs
Marcelle Meyer
Samson Francois
Phillipe Entremont
Edward Kilenyi
Yvonne Lefebure
Phillipe Cassard
Jacques Février
Emil Gilels
Paul Baumgartner

many more...