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Debussy: Piano Music Vol 2 / Michael Korstick

Debussy / Korstick,Michael
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93300   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

DEBUSSY Preludes: Book 2. La boite à joujoux. Berceuse héroique. Page d’album. Élégie. Le petite nègre Michael Korstick (pn) HÄNSSLER 93.300 (74:24)

Coming on the heels of Craig Sheppard’s CD of the complete Debussy Preludes (see my review elsewhere in this issue) is this Vol. 2 of Debussy’s Piano Music by Michael Korstick. I took a chance on it because I had been so deeply impressed by his traversal of the Read more complete Beethoven sonatas, but as you know, a pianist who excels in Beethoven doesn’t always excel in Debussy or vice-versa. Korstick is most definitely one who does.

In my review of the Sheppard CD, you will note that I had to consult the score to make sure who was playing it right and who was playing it wrong, since there are so many unusual (or, you might say, quirky) turns of phrase, not only in Sheppard’s performances but also in those of Norika Ogawa, Walter Gieseking, and Debussy himself (recorded from Welte piano rolls). And what I found was that several of the older pianists, including Debussy, took liberties with tempos (generally faster than written) and phrasing, whereas Ogawa and Sheppard generally played the tempos as written but had, to my ears, some unusual phrase-choices.

I am here to tell you that, taken as a whole, Korstick’s playing on this CD has almost the identical sound and feeling to it as Debussy’s own playing on those Welte piano rolls. Korstick here almost sounds as if he is coaxing music out of the piano rather than drumming music into it. Those who tend to think of Debussy as ethereal will get a shock listening to the composer himself playing “Minstrels.” Although Debussy always sounded as if the music was emanating from the piano frame and its wires, he was certainly not shy of producing forte climaxes when he wanted or needed to. Neither is Korstick but, as in the case of Debussy himself, those climaxes are rare—which makes them all the more effective when they do come.

So often I was taken aback by Korstick’s ability to make the soft endings of phrases, and sometimes of the pieces themselves, float off into the ether as if by magic. This is playing that goes far beyond mere technical skill; this is piano wizardry of exceptional quality. I was particularly impressed by his performance of La boîte à joujoux, a children’s ballet written for his daughter, Chouchou. Korstick’s ability to project imagery as well as mood is altogether remarkable—and, I might add, very different from his equally excellent Beethoven style. This is an album in which one quite simply lives in Debussy’s sound world so completely that one is disappointed when the disc ends, because the spell is broken.

I urge you to pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Préludes, Book 2 by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; France 
Le petit nègre by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; France 
La boîte à joujoux by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
Berceuse heroïque by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; France 
Page d'album by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 
Elégie by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 

Sound Samples

Preludes, Book 2: No. 1. Brouillards
Preludes, Book 2: No. 2. Feuilles mortes
Preludes, Book 2: No. 3. La puerta del vino
Preludes, Book 2: No. 4. Les fees sont d'exquises danseuses
Preludes, Book 2: No. 5. Bruyeres
Preludes, Book 2: No. 6. General Lavine - eccentric
Preludes, Book 2: No. 7. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
Preludes, Book 2: No. 8. Ondine
Preludes, Book 2: No. 9. Hommage a S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C
Preludes, Book 2: No. 10. Canope
Preludes, Book 2: No. 11. Les tierces alternees
Preludes, Book 2: No. 12. Feux d'artifice
Le petit negre (The Little Negro)
La boite a joujoux (version for piano): Prelude: Le sommeil de la boite (The Toy-box Asleep) - Tableau 1: Le magasin de jouets (The Toy Shop)
La boite a joujoux (version for piano): Tableau 2: Le champ de bataille (The Field of Battle)
La boite a joujoux (version for piano): Tableau 3: La bergerie a vendre (The Sheepfold for Sale) - Tableau 4: Apres fortune faite - Epilogue
Berceuse heroique
Page d'album, "Piece pour le Vetement du blesse"

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