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Claude Debussy: Preludes / Alexei Lubimov

Album Summary

>Debussy, Claude : Preludes, Book 1
>Debussy, Claude : Nocturnes (3) for Orchestra
>Debussy, Claude : Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
>Debussy, Claude : Preludes, Book 2
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

International Record Review
The sheer intelligence of Lubimov's playing is partly what is so compelling... The clarity and control of Lubimov's playing - not least the way the inner and subsidiary parts sings out, differently coloured, differently weighted - is a thing to marvel at.

Debussy is closer to the expressionism of Schoenberg than to the chiseled sonorities of a Chopin or the extravagant virtuosity of a Liszt, even if his refined art can still be seen in the line of tradition of 19th-century music. This is frequently forgotten in the interpretation as well as the assessment of his oeuvre. Debussy himself decried the concept of musical impressionism because he feared, rightly, that superficial refinement would degenerate into musical mist, concealing the subtleties of a new musical idiom and its structural logic. Thus, for example, instead of heading his 24 "Preludes" in two books with programmatic titles in his autograph score, he appended them at the bottom of the individual pieces. Perhaps, even though their popularity makes it almost impossible, we ought simply to forget about the titles when playing or listening to these pieces and recall something else that Debussy once said: "Music is a free art gushing forth, an open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea." It is in this manner - sans rigeur, as Debussy repeatedly marked his music - that Alexei Lubimov plays the "Preludes". The recording also contains the "Trois Nocurnes" in Maurice Ravel's two-piano transcription as well as a two-piano arrangement of Debussy's seminal orchestral masterpiece, the "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune".

Sunday Times, 20th May 2012
Lubimov plays a 1925 Bechstein for Book 1 and a 1913 Steinway for Book 2. The earlier piano has, perhaps, a subtler range of colours than the later one, and retains a lovely silvery edge at full stretch. The Bechstein's clarity, pleasing in a different way, brings out more of the Russian in Lubimov, everything up front rather than internalised.

The Observer, 3rd June 2012
Debussy's piano repertoire is not a novelty on disc but there is an intriguing back story here: Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov came across two old pianos which inspired a new, more authentic "period instrument" approach to Debussy's Préludes...The results are at once fresh and enigmatic.

BBC Music Magazine, July 2012
Debussy's use of pianistic colour is absolutely central to this tremendous set from Alexi Lubimov. He uses the characterful sonorities of two pianos from close to Debussy's time...not claiming historical fidelity, but simply exploring the timbres of the early 20th-century piano. And what an exploration it is, for the instruments allied to Lubimov's individuality bring the pieces alive in ways that are by turns mesmerising, thrilling, beguiling and playful.

The Arts Desk, 30th June 2012
Aided by wonderful ECM production, the results are heavenly. Lubimov is rightly attentive to Debussy's finicky dynamic markings. Des pas sur la neige is exquisitely controlled, and La cathédrale engloutie's bell sounds boom out with real power...Magnificent, in other words.

Financial Times, 7th July 2012
Everything Lubimov plays is thought through in depth and mature, musicianly detail, so that the performance never sounds intellectualised or manicured. To the two books of Préludes he brings a variety of nuance and colour that is the very opposite of processed piano-playing.

Classical Music, 30th June 2012
Lubimov presents vividly characterised, spacious readings on two different period instruments...Essential listening for anyone wanting to hear these works in a new light...Half archaeology, half artistry; all pleasure!

Gramophone Magazine, September 2012
An unusually subjective engagement that transcends an acute observation of the score...In addition, I very much like ECM's minimalist cover, excellent presentation and sound quality, lending the whole release a satisfying integrity.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Sint-Pieterskerk, Leut, Belgium (04/2011).


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Works Details

>Debussy, Claude : Préludes, Book 1
  • Performer: Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 37 min. 56 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1907-1910

>Debussy, Claude : Nocturnes (3) for Orchestra
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Zuev (Piano)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1897-1899

>Debussy, Claude : Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
  • Performers: Alexei Lubimov (Piano); Alexei Zuev (Piano)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1894

>Debussy, Claude : Préludes, Book 2
  • Performer: Alexei Lubimov (Piano)
  • Running Time: 37 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1910-1912