De­bussy: Im­ages, Es­tam­pes, etc

The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews Classical -

Steven Os­borne HYPERION ★★★★★

I’ve al­ways loved the way Steven Os­borne plays French mu­sic – for the flux and febrile at­mos­phere, but more for the rigour and steel. For­get any cliches of hazy im­pres­sion­ism, Os­borne brings di­rect­ness and mus­cle, and the bold­est as­pects of tex­ture, form and im­age stand out in ul­tra high-def­i­ni­tion as a re­sult. His lat­est De­bussy al­bum is a per­fect ex­am­ple. The gold­fish of Pois­son d’or move in jerks and flashes. The water droplets in Re­flets dans l’eau are su­per crisp, like pointil­lism writ large. At the end of Doc­tor Gradus ad Par­nas­sum, the tune rings out like a de­fi­ant shout. It’s not pretty but it is ex­hil­a­rat­ing. There is gen­tle­ness, too – try The Snow Is Danc­ing, whis­pered and sup­ple. But what makes Os­borne so rev­e­la­tory is his will­ing­ness to state in plain terms what many pi­anists make blurry. It shows up the astounding mod­ernism of De­bussy’s piano mu­sic. KM

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