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Hommage A Debussy Vol 1 - Works For Piano / Juliana Steinbach

Debussy / Steinbach
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog #: 12226   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



DEBUSSY Suite bergamasque. Pour le piano. Images, Series I & II. La Plus que lente. Valse romantique. Rêverie. Mazurka Juliana Steinbach (pn) GENUIN 12226 (77:27)


This is what you live for as a critic—those rare moments when, putting a CD on, you discover a talent so special, so unique, so alive to the music and its meaning that you are left with your mouth hanging open in utter amazement. Juliana Steinbach is one of those artists, a Read more pianist with a wholly unique style and an almost electric intensity when she plays, even in quiet passages. She has previously issued an album titled Tableaux on Paraty 110.111, which includes two more Debussy pieces and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, but I haven’t heard it.


Steinbach’s variety of touch, phrasing, tempo, and rhythmic accent is varied and consistently amazing. She can rip through the Toccata from Pour le piano and give it a structure not unlike a similar piece by Bach, play exactly the right quirky rhythm needed for the 1891 Mazurka, then turn around and produce a well-floated and ethereal Clair de lune or Reflets dans l’eau. She can phrase in a consistent legato when she wants to, or let up on the pedal to play more crisply, and her rubato feeling is as sensitive and highly developed as that of Toscanini—at times, so subtle that only by following the music along with her do you note the many and varied instances where she employs it, although in general you can feel the slight tension she brings to so many of these pieces (listen carefully, for instance, to “Mouvement” from Images I and you’ll know what I mean).


Indeed, Steinbach’s light use of the sustain pedal puts her at odds with the majority of today’s Debussy pianists, who seem to feel that this is de rigeur in playing this composer’s music, but at odds with such legendary Debussy interpreters as Walter Gieseking, Alfred Cortot (who had a beautiful, deep-in-the-keys tone, but also played Debussy more crisply than most French pianists), and, oddly enough, Debussy himself. If you have heard the composer’s own recordings of “Il pleure dans mon coeur,” “L’Ombre des arbres,” and “Green” with soprano Mary Garden, or his Welte piano rolls of D’un Cahier d’esquisses or La Soirée dans Grenade , you’ll know that even the composer himself, though he could play lightly when called for, was not a wispy pianist and, in fact, often pressed the beat. And just listen to the way Steinbach performs “Et la lune descend” from Images II: She holds the notes, suspended as if in the air. It is almost as if rain were falling in slow motion, and here and there, a raindrop stops in midair and does not fall any further—until she lets it fall! The soft but rapid triplets and 16ths of “Poissons d’or” run under her fingers like a continuous thought, initiated by the first note of the series and not finished until she reaches the end of the string. All this is playing of an extraordinarily high and imaginative order. Then, to cap it off, she concludes with a La Plus que lente of utterly haunting beauty.


In the liner notes, it is mentioned that Debussy discovered the Blüthner boudoir grand piano that became his constant instrument in 1905, while composing Images I, and on the back of the CD cover is the logo for Blüthner pianos. I had to do some digging online, however, to discover that Steinbach is an exclusive Blüthner pianist, but no, she is not necessarily playing Debussy’s own instrument. Very highly recommended.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Valse romantique by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
Rêverie by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
3.
Mazurka for Piano by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1890; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
4.
Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 17 Minutes 17 Secs. 
5.
Suite for Piano "Pour le piano" by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896-1901; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 13 Minutes 4 Secs. 
6.
Images for Piano, Set 1 by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 16 Minutes 6 Secs. 
7.
Images for Piano, Set 2 by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 13 Minutes 20 Secs. 
8.
La plus que lente by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Juliana Steinbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Venue:  Mediencampus Villa Ida, Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 

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