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Format: Audio CD
Great artists are often accused of being too egocentric to care for various members of their family, but in the case of Debussy, it is a well-known fact that for his only child he experienced a very tender love. "The Children's Corner" is as if the great composer had side-stepped his own stature to donate the best of his art to the infant child. When his daughter Chouchou was very young, Debussy brought her some delightful little toys to enjoy which induced him to compose "The Children's Corner." Pianist Simon Trpceski performed this collection of pieces as a part of his recent concert in Toronto which I attended. His playing was extremely opposite to that heard on this recording. "Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum" was played with a very harsh attack, crashing accents and at an overblown triple forte throughout. As a result the playful, humorous character was totally destroyed. This kind of approach was evident in "Golliwog's Cake-Walk" as well. The tempo was so fast and touch so steel-like that the supple cake-walk character and varying features simply did not occur. This was most puzzling to me, because Trpceski's playing on this disc is totally the opposite as mentioned earlier. "Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum", reflects the progressive gymnastics, clarity, fluency and delightful charming take-off on piano exercises "a la Clementi or Czerny?" In "Jimbo's Lullaby, Serenade For The Doll, Snow Is Dancing and The Little Shepherd", Trpceski finally came through with the playing I was desperately looking for! He produces a suppleness and caress in his touch and penetrating softness where needed. The scale of nuances went from pianissimo to a controlled forte without ever losing the subtlety of the harmonies."Golliwog's Cake-Walk", is immediately successful conveying a basically diatonic jazzy playmate. Humor in quantities is conveyed by sudden halts, sharp accents, dynamic contrasts and an array of dance steps, of grotesque poses, tumbles and recoveries of the little puppet. Trpceski becomes ironic in a passage of the middle section, creating a delightful take-off on the prelude to "Tristan und Isolde," with yearning emotion. The two "Arabesques", are early compositions in which Trpceski fills the first with charm, the charm of decorative patterns gracefully adorning objects, monuments, a room, or even the frame of a picture. His touch defines the interlacing flowing fancy, characteristic of this work. The second "Arabesque" is less lyric in character than the first. Its patterns have sharper outlines and its rhythmic pulsations are more active. Trpceski creates the necessary overall brightness, with occasional sturdiness, in contrast to the supple fluency of the first. It is strange to reflect that only three of the six "Images" are performed with any degree of frequency and that even these do not enjoy the remarkable popularity which they should. "Reflets Dans L'Eau", could say that what Debussy saw in the water was the reflection of his own love of subtle design. Trpceski conjures the tremendous variety of shades which are intimately pervading as well as its poetic lines, simplicity, and ever-changing animation. "Hommage A Rameau", is a slow sarabande in which Debussy pays homage to Rameau's affinity for the classic dance forms. In performing this work, Trpceski respects the scoring and with stylistic understanding conveys the moods of reverence, great sorrowful tenderness and its expressive and emotionally intense conjuring of the memory of a departed musician. "Mouvement", is a composition of a basically abstract nature, despite the very human charm of its central theme. Trpceski creates the impression of a delicate wheel running at high velocity fully exposing the strange harmonic elements. "Cloches A Travers les Feuilles" ("Bells heard through the leaves.") Here, Trpceski artistically makes use of pedaling as a kind of breathing to create full chime effects and to support texturing and the harmonies. He magnificently carries its impersonal tonal sensation into a sphere of inner peace. "Et la Lune Descend..." In this performance Trpceski gently conveys a sensitive transportation of something unseen in nature, yet present in a dream. He attentively defines the important subtleties, which can make or destroy the aesthetics of the performance. "Poissons D'or", is amazingly conveyed. Trpceski simulates the delicate fining of a goldfish remaining almost still, then its rapid fast gliding, its colorful brilliancy and weightless nature. "Clair de lune" is a composition that speaks to each of us in a most personal way. Trpceski performs this with a penetrating softness staying close to the keyboard. The entire plan communicates the romantic character, an expressive, singing tone almost always in half shades, sensitive harmonies and a thoughtful sketch, which never quite forgets its opening mood. "L'Isle Joyeuse" is one of the most extroverted of Debussy's compositions. Trpceski's virtuosity captivates the orchestral conception of this work in a way that represents an equivalent to the Lisztian endeavor in piano literature. He conveys the enchantment of the "land of love" with full sonority and expressive power as it pervades the music, culminating into triumphant dance rhythms that create a glorious fanfare in honor of the goddess at the temple of Venus. Trpceski's finale is one that is filled with turmoil and exuberant joy!
"I am so relieved that this recording proves that even the great artists can have an "off" live performance.
Gramophone Magazine hit this one right on the head!"
Author: Raymond Vacchino M.Mus. A.Mus. L.R.S.M. Licentiate (honorary)