Estampes Archive

DEBUSSY: Estampes; Images; Children’s Corner Suite; La plus que lente; L’Isle joyeuse – Stephen Hough, piano – Hyperion 

DEBUSSY: Estampes; Images; Children’s Corner Suite; La plus que lente; L’Isle joyeuse – Stephen Hough, piano – Hyperion 

DEBUSSY: Estampes; Images, Books I-II; Children’s Corner Suite; La plus que lente; L’Isle joyeuse – Stephen Hough, piano – Hyperion CDA68139, 69:25 (1/5/18) [Harmonia mundi/PIAS] **** A potent and sonically resonant all-Debussy album attests to the spectacular technique of Stephen Hough. Having listened to the exotic, even voluptuous, sounds of the gamelan and gong (or metallophone) at the 1899 Exposition Universelle in Paris, Debussy carried within his musical imagination of vast array of potential colors, each of which finds release in his brilliant 1903 suite Estampes (Engravings).  Stephen Hough proves admirably capable of projecting the vibrant, pentatonic energy of the opening Pagodes, set on the keyboard’s black keys. Although Debussy marks the score sans nuance, the effect of ‘distancing’ does not diminish the spectacular wave-like motion—via 2-bar and 4-bar measures—of the piece, as though Balinese dancers had their sensuous reflection in a still pond. For the second of the engravings, Debussy takes us to Spain, as cross-fertilized by Moorish harmony. The lilted habanera rings with Spanish folk idioms across the range of the keyboard.  The languor of the music increases with the strumming of sensuous guitars, moving to a hazy, even lazy, sense of seductive quietude. Hough explodes with a […]