Debussy: Images – Books 1 and 2; Préludes – Book 2

Reviewed on Thu 29 Jan, 2015

These works are all from Debussy’s maturity, from the period of La mer until just before the Great War. This is the first time I’ve heard Marc-André Hamelin playing Debussy, but Impressionist piano music has never received a better recording than this one. In comprehension and expression alike, these performances are equal to the best of Debussy recordings from 30 years ago by Paul Jacobs, 60 years ago by Robert Casadesus, or by Roy Howat today. You can hear the most immaculately smooth jeu perlé in 'Reflets dans l’eau' and 'Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses'; an amazing range of piano sound in 'Hommage à Rameau' and 'General Lavine'; scary dynamics in 'Feux d’artifice'; and an inspired sense of tempi throughout. Everything on this CD is superb, but I’m waiting for Hamelin to record Pour le piano, Children’s Corner, and l’Isle joyeuse.
–Mark DeVoto