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Debussy: Four Hand Piano Music [Jean-Pierre Armengaud, Olivier Chauzu] [Naxos: 8572979]

Olivier Chauzu Audio CD

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Product Description

Product Description

The recent discovery (2008) of the Première Suite d’orchestre for piano, four hands, is a large-scale, sonorous work which reveals Debussy’s interest in constantly evolving form. Derived in part from his incidental music for the Chansons de Bilitis, an evocation of poetic scenes from an ancient pagan world, Six Épigraphes antiques is a colourful work of considerable creative freedom. The Petite Suite includes such well-loved movements as En bateau and Cortège, while the Marche ecossaise is heard on this recording in its rare first version.

A pupil of Yves Nat and Jacques Février, and, in Russia, of Stanislav Neuhaus, Jean-Pierre Armengaud is one of the leading interpreters of French music from Rameau to Henri Dutilleux.Olivier Chauzu was awarded the Prix Debussy at the Yvonne Lefèbure competition at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Product Description

Petite Suite - Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire - 6 Épigraphes antiques - Première Suite d'orchestre / Jean-Pierre Armengaud & Olivier Chauzu, piano à 4 mains

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four-Hand Debussy with a Newly Discovered Four-Hand Suite 19 April 2013
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
There is one very well-known work on this disc, the Petite Suite, which is a favorite among both professional and amateur pianists. And there are several other works that are rarely heard, including one whose score was discovered as recently as 2008.

The newly discovered piece is Debussy's own four-hand version of the Première Suite d'Orchestre (ca. 1882-1884). The orchestral version of the suite is incomplete; it exists in score but the third movement, RÍve, is missing. The third movement has been orchestrated, using the piano version as model, and has been recorded. The work may have been started when Debussy was living in Russia where he was working for Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky's patroness. The suite consists of four movements: FÍte, Ballet, RÍve, & Cortège et Bacchanale. 'FÍte' is a rondo of sorts with the A section varied on each return. 'Ballet' is in ternary form and has an oriental cast. 'RÍve', after a short tremulous introduction, is lyrical with much of the melodic material in the secondo with shimmering passages in the primo (treble) part. 'Cortège et Bacchanale' at nearly nine minutes is the longest movement in this 26-minute suite. It, like 'FÍte', is a kind of rondo with a third theme appearing in the middle and then an extended coda. The cortège section is both oriental and cumulative, like a procession, and the baccahanale is wild and assertive. This suite is a real discovery for those of us who love four-hand music. I note that this is not the first recording of it, but I have not heard any of the others. The score was published in 2009: Première Suite D'orchestre (1 Piano, 4 Hands)

The disc starts with the familiar Petite Suite, written in 1888-89. The work is given an aptly delicate and charming reading by Jean-Pierre Armengaud and Olivier Chauzu. Armengaud has recorded much Debussy and clearly has Debussy's sound in his ears and fingers. There have been many other recordings of the Petite Suite but this one more than holds its own.

Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire (1890, 1st version) was written on commission from the former American consul-general in Paris, General John Meredith Reid, a man of Scots background. Apparently the source of the theme is a song sung by the Ross clan from which Reid was descended. The tune is a march and occurs first in augmentation but on its return in the final section it becomes a lively gigue. Debussy orchestrated the piece in 1908 and the only other time I'd heard it before was a recording of that orchestration made by Toscanini.

The other work on this disc is the Six Épigraphes antiques (1914-1915), a much later work whose style is the rather more etiolated one that Debussy came to in his later years. It consists of six named pieces, each with an evocative title. There are two dance movements (IV, V) and a funereal one (II), as well as a nocturne (III), an evocation of gentle rain (VI) and of Pan, god of the summer wind (I).

This is a wonderful release with enough unfamiliar Debussy to make it a discovery and with the familiar Petite Suite in a charming performance.


Scott Morrison
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