DEBUSSY: Preludes, Books I and II – Pascal Roge, piano – Onyx

by | Sep 30, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

DEBUSSY: Preludes, Books I and II – Pascal Roge, piano – Onyx 4004, 77:52  ****:

Parisian pianist Pascal Roge, a pupil of Marguerite Long, Lucette
Descaves, and to an extent Jose Iturbi, has made a sturdy career in
Gallic repertory, especially in the music of Satie, Faure, Poulenc,
Ravel, and Debussy. In his new recording (from Switzerland, 2004) of
Debussy’s two books of Preludes (1910; 1913), he applies his
considerable technical and emotional palette to a sound world which
consistently impresses with its unique self-containment.  At once
understated and thoroughly rapt and articulated with colors, Roge’s
traversal will likely remain a benchmark for the new millenium, as the
renditions of Gieseking, Cortot, Casadesus, and Michelangeli (in his
own way) had for the 20th century interpretation.

Without having to recount each of Roge’s specific realizations, let me
comment that the combination of folk elements – as in Les collines
d’Anacapri, or national tunes – as in Samuel Pickwick and Fireworks,
are harnessed to a modal and bravura fioritura which remains curiously
classical in its restraint. Even the music of romantic imagination, La
terrasse des audiences du clair de lune and Les fees sont d’exquises
danseuses, emerge as concentrated, economical combinations of color
nuance and imploded emotions. The sudden washes and urges of color and
brilliant scales and octaves, as in Ondine and La cathedrale agouties,
startle by contrast with the demure tone that dominates Roge’s canvas.
The lure of the exotic, in La puerta del vino, Les sons et les parfums
tournent dans l’air du soir, and Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest, attempt to
merge the aural and olfactory senses, while liberating the dissonance
in a manner not far from Beethoven, Liszt, and Scriabin.The witty
pieces, like Minstrels, Gerneral Lavine, and La danse de Puck, enjoy a
delight in acrobatics that can border on the savage. And the eerie
pieces, like Brouillards, Voiles, and Des pas sur la neige are both
plastic and haunted. In other words, Roge’s version has made me
re-think the Debussy Preludes, and that must be reason enough to
warrant any audiophile’s enquiry. Besides, the sound engineering by
Jean-Claude Gaberel is masterful.

–Gary Lemco

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