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Debussy: Préludes / Steven Osborne

Album Summary

>Debussy, Claude : Preludes, Book 1
>Debussy, Claude : Preludes, Book 2
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"The immense musicianship and pianistic refinement distinguishing Steven Osborne's Alkan and Messiaen recordings for Hyperion inform what may be the reference version of Debussy's Preludes for years to come. Osborne's attention to detail often raises interpretive standards to new levels. A triumph!" -Classics Today (10/10)

'A good recording of the Debussy Préludes should feel like an occasion, and Steven Osborne delivers. His playing seeps with atmosphere and he delves deep into the composer's sound world. There is throughout the sense of going on a journey, even awe, to Osborne's interpretations. Beautifully recorded, this is total-immersion Debussy' (Gramophone)

'This CD confirms what has been increasingly apparent from Osborne's recitals: he is one of the outstanding keyboard talents of our time. Osborne plays with a maturity that sets him apart from most of his contemporaries bringing to the two books of préludes a quality of touch, texture and colour that lets the music's scene and story-telling speak for itself without blurring. From the very first note you feel he has Debussy's entire sound-world in his grasp' (The Financial Times)

'The finesse that Steven Osborne infallibly brings to his playing pays winning dividends on this recording of the two books of Debussy's Préludes' (Daily Telegraph)

'Steven Osborne's accounts of both books of Debussy's Préludes are as cultivated and refined as one might expect from this hugely talented young pianist. The shifting layers of Voiles, the introspection of Feuilles Mortes, the terraces of sound in La Cathédrale Engloutie and Canopes are full of carefully observed detail, so that every harmonic nuance is perfectly rendered' (The Guardian)

'His playing has the same luminous precision as the Seurat painting Beach at Bas Butin on the booklet cover. Just as the painter [turns his] Divisionist dots into shimmering pictures, so Osborne uses Debussy's immaculately etched notes to do the same. It offers the rare pleasure that can be given only by someone who knows exactly what he is doing' (International Record Review)

Osborne's Debussy has much to commend it. He is a sensitive tone-colourist and .. one immediately senses that one is in the presence of a poet...this playing is alive with personality and zest...Osborne has the measure of this music' (International Piano)

'It's clear that this beautifully engineered release has few serious catalog rivals and easily ranks first among modern versions that fit both books of Debussy's Preludes onto a single disc. A triumph!' (ClassicsToday.com)

'The only word one can use to secure pinpoint accuracy in any assessment of Steven Osborne's wonderful new recording of Debussy's two books of Préludes for piano is magisterial. It is freshly-minted and mind-opening, not least in the most intelligent and lucid performances of Les collines d'Anacapri I have ever heard' (The Glasgow Herald)

'One of the most memorable discs of the year...Osborne has the full measure of the music in this gloriously played and beautifully recorded disc. His readings of the 24 pieces exude authority and empathy in equal measure, and he finds a wonderful range and depth of tonal colour and texture in the music, delivered with just the right touch and expression. Sensitive and lucid, this is a magnificent achievement to add to the pianist's already substantial reputation' (Inverness Courier)

'Le miracle de la version de Steven Osborne est en quelque sorte d'unir les magiciens du son et les rigoristes. Immédiatement, son interprétation nous plonge dans des mondes sonores quasiment oubliés depuis Zimerman. Il y a parfois des choses que l'on n'arrive tout simplement pas à croire. J'en suis à cinq écoutes et je n'en reviens toujours pas...' (ClassicsTodayFrance.com)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Steven Osborne tells us that in preparing this recording he was struck 'by the enormous scope of these preludes. What other collection of pieces manages to create so many utterly distinct and compelling worlds?' But he has prepared well, and every prelude glows, always rich in atmosphere. The opening 'Danseuses de Delphes' has a commandingly grave serenity and 'Voiles' floats effortlessly. Yet 'Les collines d'Anacapri' dances with sparkling rhythmic vitality and 'La danse de Puck' is deliciously capricious.

Osborne's delicacy of feeling (and texture) is at its most magical in the soft footfalls 'sur la neige', although 'Feuilles mortes' has similar moments of evocative quietness. The unpredictability of 'Le vent dans la plaine' is matched by the simulated violence of 'Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest', and the thrilling climax of 'La cathédrale engloutie' has rich depth and sonority. By contrast, 'La fille aux cheveux de lin' has a ravishing simplicity, without sentimentalising.

'S Pickwick' brings a momentary smile but his eccentricity is banished by the calm of 'Canope' and the joyful virtuosity of 'Les tièrces alternées'.

Osborne's virtuosity is never for its own sake and always reflects the music's spirit. The obvious comparison is with Zimerman's stunningly vivid recording; but his extraordinarily brilliant playing is at times almost over-projected and Osborne's natural spontaneity and powerful conveying of inner feeling is every bit as telling - less intense but deeply satisfying. The Hyperion recording is very realistic.


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Works Details

>Debussy, Claude : Préludes, Book 1
  • Performer: Steven Osborne (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (01/06/2006-01/08/2006)
  • Running Time: 38 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1907-1910

>Debussy, Claude : Préludes, Book 2
  • Performer: Steven Osborne (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (01/06/2006-01/08/2006)
  • Running Time: 34 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1910-1912