Notes and Editorial Reviews
Collectors may want to know how Philips' latest incarnation of Mitsuko Uchida's 1989 Debussy Etudes differs from earlier CD issues. A 2001 reissue in Philips' "50 Great Recordings" series offered 24-bit remastering that yielded more palpable room ambience, clearer definition, and a more natural equalization of the piano than the excellent-sounding original release. The warmer, rounder impact I glean from the present "Originals" transfer appears to result from slightly beefing up the bass. Admittedly, these are hair-splitting considerations, and you can't go wrong with either reissue, but if you already own the 2001 version (my personal preference), you need not replace it.
Uchida's interpretations are distinguished by her ability to reconcile fastidious observation of the composer's markings with her acute instincts for nuance and flexibility. The first etude's burlesqued piano-practice scales are clearly articulated without ever sounding notey, while the three double-note etudes stand out for supple, ultra-secure fingerwork and ravishing tone color. Uchida's stunning dispatch of the seventh etude, "Pour les huit doigts", adds up to a master class on the subject of when and when not to pedal.
So does the pianist's vividly characterized eighth etude. Here's a case where taking interpretive liberties works to the music's benefit. For example, Debussy wants the penultimate measures sustained. However, Uchida lifts the pedal on the second to last measure so that the final cluster makes a more surprising and humorous impact. She leans into etude eleven's gorgeous polytextural writing for all it's worth, and brings sweeping ferocity to the chord/octave leaps in the final etude's outer sections. In short, Uchida's Debussy Etudes proudly retains its status as a classic, notwithstanding subsequent and serious rivalry from Florent Bouffard (Harmonia Mundi) and Ju-Ying Song (Pro Piano). Absolutely essential! [8/22/2006]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Etudes (12) for Piano by Claude Debussy
Mitsuko Uchida (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1915; France
Date of Recording: 04/1989
Length: 47 Minutes 12 Secs.
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