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Les Sons et les Parfums - Debussy Meets Chopin / Perianes

Chopin / Debussy / Perianes
Release Date: 11/12/2013 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 902164   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frédéric ChopinClaude DebussyUnspecified
Performer:  Javier Perianes
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Javier Perianes is an emerging pianist with a keen lyrical sensibility. As this disc’s accompanying DVD interview makes evident, he has thought deeply about the music on this recording and is passionate about the insights that have informed his programming choices. This recital attempts to demonstrate Chopin’s influence on Debussy, presenting six pieces by each composer to highlight points of similarity between each pair of pieces. Yvan Nommick’s program notes offer detailed arguments for Perianes’s pairings. Although I do not find all of the pairings compelling, I applaud the effort to present this most standard of repertoire in a context that may enhance listeners’ insight into it.

The most successful Read more programming choice on Perianes’s recital is the pairing of Chopin’s “Aeolian Harp” Étude with Debussy’s Étude “Pour les arpèges composes.” Debussy composed his 12 piano études while preparing an edition of Chopin’s works for Durand and dedicated his études to Chopin’s memory. Both pieces are in the key of Ab and involve rapid, quiet arpeggios. Listening to them in immediate proximity is fascinating. Debussy’s positioning of his melody in the low bass and his inclusion of dissonant notes in the arpeggios gives them a sparkling, improvisatory brilliance, whereas Chopin’s arpeggios form an understated accompaniment to his treble melody. Perianes captures the stylistic differences between the two pieces nicely; his Debussy is hypnotic, except in the sections marked giocoso , where it is appropriately raucous. He has a pleasingly gentle, nuanced approach to the Chopin Étude, though I find that his leisurely tempo occasionally undermines the piece’s sense of gracefulness.

The pairing of Chopin’s Nocturne in F# with Debussy’s Prelude “La Terrasse des audiences du clair de lune” is equally intriguing, as is that of Chopin’s Barcarolle with Debussy’s L’isle joyeuse . Aside from their shared tonality, the Nocturne and the Prelude both involve distinctively similar pianistic figuration. Likewise, the Barcarolle and L’isle joyeuse are ecstatic, technically demanding works in which the trill plays a significant structural and emotional role. Perianes offers the Nocturne’s melody a fine bel canto treatment, with a generous amount of rubato and an articulate, pearly sound on the melismatic passages. He demonstrates a good sense of sonority in the Prelude, never allowing the resonant bass chords to overwhelm the melodies in the extreme treble. I find Perianes’s playing to be a bit too understated in the other two pieces; his Barcarolle does not achieve the exalted apotheosis of Krystian Zimerman’s, and his L’isle joyeuse never reaches the hedonistic ecstasy of Gieseking’s. This is a function in both cases of somewhat slow tempos and a tendency to concentrate on nuances within musical phrases rather than on the connections between phrases.

This characteristic of Perianes’s playing is an advantage in his treatment of Chopin’s Prelude in C. Many pianists approach this brief piece as an explosive rush of sound. In Perianes’s hands, the listener can hear individual moments within each phrase without losing the sense of urgency. Perianes presents Debussy’s “Danseuses de Delphes” with a gentle charm and a supple, expressive melody line. Aside from being the first of each composer’s collection of preludes, the two pieces overlap in melodic material, though their overall sensibility could not be more different.

The connections between Chopin’s Berceuse and Debussy’s “Clair de lune” strike me as rather tenuous, as do those between Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 and Debussy’s “Les Sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir.” The first two pieces share a key signature and a nocturnal context. But whereas the Berceuse is a cradle song, hypnotically stable in harmony and peacefully graceful in figuration, “Clair de lune” is a passionate, decadent piece reflective of the sumptuous imagery of the Verlaine poem that inspired it. Likewise, the program notes tentatively suggest a melodic connection between the Ballade’s first theme and the theme of Debussy’s “Les Sons.” Both involve an ascending perfect fourth and a descending tritone. These intervals are stated in such divergent harmonic and metric contexts, though, as to make any resemblance strictly theoretical.

Perianes’s playing in the Berceuse is a bit too regular. The approach to the coda needs to stretch more to capture the magic of Chopin’s harmonic deviation from the two chords that have occupied the body of the piece. The playing on “Clair de lune” is more supple, although the tone is slightly strident in some of the upper registers. Perianes’s Ballade is sensitive, with well-shaped melodies, but is a bit under tempo in the more virtuosic passages. The exalted restatement of the second theme does not quite soar, and the coda is not the explosive conclusion needed for this dramatic work. I suspect that the Ballade may be slightly beyond Perianes’s otherwise admirable technical capacities. In contrast, “Les Sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir” is among the best-played pieces on the recording, demonstrating Perianes’s impressive control over dynamics and texture, with a full range of warm, misty colors.

Two waltzes round out the program. Chopin’s Grand Valse brillante in A Minor and Debussy’s Le plus que lente share little beyond their meter and their minor-key tonality. They are both elegant, charming works, though, and Perianes plays them with delicacy and grace.

This recording has much to recommend it, both for its intelligent programming and its musical sensitivity. Its sound engineering, likewise, is impeccable, with a warm, live sound and a minimum of string buzz. The accompanying DVD includes interviews with Perianes and Nommick and video recordings of Chopin’s Berceuse and Debussy’s “Clair de lune.”

FANFARE: Myron Silberstein
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Works on This Recording

1.
Berceuse for Piano in D flat major, B 154/Op. 57 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
2.
Suite bergamasque: 3rd movement, Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 5 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3.
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 25: no 1 in A flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
4.
Etudes (12) for Piano, Book 2: no 11, Pour les arpèges composées by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 5 Minutes 38 Secs. 
5.
Ballade for Piano no 4 in F minor, B 146/Op. 52 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 11 Minutes 50 Secs. 
6.
Préludes, Book 1: no 4, Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 
7.
Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34: no 2 in A minor, B 64 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Poland 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 5 Minutes 35 Secs. 
8.
La plus que lente by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 4 Minutes 52 Secs. 
9.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 28: no 1 in C major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 0 Minutes 36 Secs. 
10.
Préludes, Book 1: no 1, Danseuses de Delphes by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
11.
Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Op. 15: no 2 in F sharp major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
12.
Préludes, Book 2: no 7, La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
13.
Barcarolle for Piano in F sharp major, B 158/Op. 60 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 9 Minutes 18 Secs. 
14.
L'isle joyeuse by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Javier Perianes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2012 
Venue:  Teldex Studio Berlin 
Length: 6 Minutes 37 Secs. 
15.
Bonus DVD Material by Unspecified

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