Images – Book I
Images – Book II
Suite bergamasque – Clair de lune
Simon Trpčeski (piano)
Recorded May and November 2007 in Potton Hall, Suffolk, England
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: January 2008
CD No: EMI 5 00272 2
Duration: 62 minutes
There are numerous distinguished collections of Debussy’s piano music in the catalogue. This one from Simon Trpčeski is not an unqualified success but begins with a beautifully judged account of the beguiling Arabesque No.1, which Trpčeski plays with affection and shapeliness. Its companion is crisply rendered, quite baroque, if not as humorous as it might be and with accents aggressively rendered. Children’s Corner opens with a rather matter-of-fact rendition of ‘Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum’ that becomes too laden-down at its midpoint and with no sense of achievement in the final cascades. The following quartet of pieces are far more successful, Trpčeski exploring a deeper sense of expression through simplicity; his unaffected but meaningful playing of ‘Jimbo’s Lullaby’ is very rewarding and his timing of contrasts very effective; here and elsewhere there is a gentle conjuring of dreams that must be quite difficult to effect in the studio, but is transcending here. ‘Golliwog’s Cake-walk’, rather falling into a pattern, is without insouciance and wit.
The six pieces that make up the two Books of Images mostly sit well with Trpčeski’s ability to fantasise without losing sight of musical threads. A refined sensibility is at work in ‘Hommage à Rameau’ and a deftly acute one in ‘Mouvement’ and ‘Poissons d’or’, even if a hardening of tone is apparent in the loudest passages. The recording is good without being exceptional; it can be too bright at times and can benefit from a reduction of volume; furthermore the noise of the pedals’ action can be intrusive. This is not the subtlest or most supple of Debussy-interpretation and the recording and/or post-production plays its part in making this a recording difficult to reproduce without feeling uneasy about it. That said, Trpčeski can create a rapt atmosphere, as in ‘Cloches à travers les feuilles’ (but the piano’s top register pings a bit) and, sometimes, textures are too misty-sounding, even in ‘Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut’, a demonstration that too much Impressionism can get in the way of Debussy’s more-important musical material.
‘Clair de lune’ is wonderfully done, though, with a cleaner palette of timbres – the disc is short enough to have allowed inclusion of the whole of Suite bergamasque – while the volubility, crispness and expanse needed for L’isle joyeuse finds Trpčeski at-one with the musical and technical demands.