DEBUSSY Images, Book I. Estampes. GRIFFES Roman Sketches: The White Peacock; Nightfall. RAVEL Jeux d’eau. Valses nobles et sentimentales • Mary Towse-Beck (pn) • MARY TOWSE-BECK no catalog number (65:54)
Available at CD Baby and ArkivMusic or as a download at Amazon.com
This disc,Read more titled The Impressionists, is the debut recording of pianist Towse-Beck, whose teachers include James Tocco, Jerome Rose, Rebecca Penneys, and Benjamin Kaplan. It’s always difficult to gauge the range of any new artist’s effectiveness over a broad spectrum of repertoire when the debut disc focuses on one specific genre, as this one does, but my impression of her is a good one. Towse-Beck has a remarkable touch for this kind of music in both meanings of the word: She knows how to convey its meaning and she knows how to best draw sounds out of the keyboard. She also knows when to increase volume, when to play deep in the keys, and when to lighten pressure to coax sounds and moods.
Although I liked her interpretations and thought her playing very fine, I can’t say that she said anything new or individual through these works. It remains to be seen (or heard) if Towse-Beck has an original approach to other composers in other styles of music.
That being said, this is a very effective program, using the two Debussy suites as bookends, with the Griffes pieces coming second and Ravel’s works third. I smiled when listening to her fine playing of the two Griffes pieces, since that composer was one of Tocco’s specialties. She learned her lessons well from him. The sound quality of the CD is also excellent: not too roomy or overly-ambient, but just enough space to make the instrument sound completely natural and not too close for listening comfort.