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Debussy: Preludes [CD]

Steven Osborne Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £14.44 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Steven Osborne is one of Britain’s foremost musicians, renowned for his idiomatic approach to a wide variety of repertoire from the mainstream classical works of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms to the rarefied worlds of Messiaen, Tippett and Britten. He has won numerous awards and prizes including the 2009 Gramophone Award for his recording of Britten’s works for piano and orchestra, ... Read more in Amazon's Steven Osborne Store

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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Steven Osborne
  • Audio CD (28 Aug 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000GPI26I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,552 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Danseuses de Delphes - Lent et grave
2. Voiles - Modere
3. Le vent dans la plaine - Anime
4. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir - Modere
5. Les collines d'Anacapri - Tres modere
6. Des pas sur la neige - Triste et lent
7. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'ouest - Anime et tumultueux
8. La fille aux cheveux de lin - Tres calme et doucement expressif
9. La serenade interrompue - Moderement anime
10. La Cathedrale engloutie - Profondement calme
11. La danse de Puck - Capricieux et leger
12. Minstrels - Modere
13. Brouillards - Modere
14. Feuilles mortes - Lent et melancolique
15. La Puerta del Vino - Mouvement de Habanera
16. Les fees sont d'exquises danseuses - Rapide et leger
17. Bruyeres - Calme
18. General Lavine - Excentric. Dans Le Style Et Le Mouvement D'un Cake-Walk
19. Les terrasse des audiences du clair de lune - lent
20. Ondine - Scherzando
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Product Description

BBC Review

From the Delphic Dancers of the first Prelude to the explosive Fireworks that end the second book, each Debussy Prelude immerses us in a separate and distinct world; a collection of 24 microcosms which have to be explored and illuminated individually, and yet are still undeniably related by what Steven Osborne recognises as 'a wonderfully subtle sense of ebb and flow that is innate to Debussy's music.'

Osborne talks about the way Debussy's meticulous instructions and carefully controlled dynamic markings result in what feels like an almost improvisatory freedom in the music, and the sheer variety of moods and textures - the violent gusts of the west wind, the subdued hopelessness of 'Footsteps in the Snow', the humour of the minstrels Debussy remembered playing on the promenade at Eastbourne outside his hotel...and above all the eerie sub-aquatic world of the sunken cathedral of Ys, which Osborne thinks is, at least in terms of sonority, perhaps the greatest piano piece ever written.

On this evidence, you'd be inclined to agree with him. Osborne achieves little miracles of colour and control. You should be able to take the technical fluency for granted at this level - and you can - yet this is a quiet virtuosity compared to some of the famous recordings of Debussy's Preludes, a prodigious technique that's put humbly at the service of the music.

The recording respects Steven Osborne as much as he does the composer; the pianist provides the colour, the resonance, the glowing halo of sound, and the recording delivers it with great clarity and honesty. Add fascinating notes from Roger Nichols, and you have a very classy package indeed. Strongly, indeed, urgently recommended. --Andrew McGregor

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Product Description

Préludes (Livres I & II) / Steven Osborne, piano

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
There is no doubt that Steven Osborne has all the technique required to deliver all that Debussy requires of his pianists on paper.
These are meticulously crafted gems where the impression is that everything has been thought through with the greatest care and finally presented glittering with polished perfection. The recording from 2006 is admirable too in presenting this with impressive fidelity.

So far so good and for many this will be more than enough and rather more than might be expected yet there is just that Gallic coolness, a possible holding back of emotion, that I don't sense in the best of alternatives. Three recent alternatives may serve to illustrate what I suspect to be the case - and please note my reluctance to be too forthright over this, possibly contentious, point.

The much admired and award winning set by Krystian Zimerman is certainly one of the finest currently available and he brings a far more aggressive approach to these works. There is technical perfection here to be sure and, additionally, there is a passion missing in Osborne's account. I can also agree that for some there is too much passion here and not enough of that Gallic reserve.

There is more reserve in the account of Thibaudet, who as a Frenchman, probably has a more intimate understanding of Gallic reserve. He too, has plenty of technique at his command but eschews the open emotion and bravura of Zimerman preferring a cooler approach altogether. Some have found him too cool, even emotionally detached, but not in my opinion, more so than Osborne.

My last example is that of another young Frenchman, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet who has also been the recipient of much praise and awards for his complete Debussy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steven Osborne at his best 11 Aug 2011
By Elpenor
Format:Audio CD
This is without a doubt one of the best complete cycles of the Debussy Preludes. Osborne sounds in his element in this music, producing a beautifully clean sound that showcases the textures to the full. It's occasionally a bit on the restrained side - I've heard The Girl with the Flaxen Hair played more seductively by pianists such as Pascal Roge, and Osborne's Feux d'Artifice lacks excitement compared to the spectacular Marc-Andre Hamelin and Krystian Zimerman versions. But these are minor reservations - few pianists engage with Debussy's idiom as consistently as Osborne does.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exceptional 26 Nov 2006
By jsa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Claudio Arrau's classic recordings of Debussy's preludes from the late 1970's are the yardstick by which I measure other readings of these works. They are still my first choice, however, Steven Osborne has delivered a very convincing set of preludes that are beautifully recorded. He has a genuine feel for this music and his readings, while often brisker than Arrau's, are appropriately impressionistic but with a little more bite to them. Osborne's technical equipment is exceptional and he sails through the tougher passages without a hint of effort, yet unlike many young pianists you never feel that his technique is deliberately on display. His treatments tend to be somewhat straightforward (but not prosaic) where Arrau lingers over details, as he is known to do; and while some may find Arrau a little too relaxed, when comparing the two approaches I think Arrau captures more of the magic. His use of space, so crucial in this music, is simply unequaled. But then, Claudio Arrau had been playing the piano for nearly 70 years when he recorded the preludes. Still, Osborne plays with a wisdom that belies his age (35) and the results are completely satisfying.

Osborne's readings of the second book of preludes sizzle, reminding me of Richter's exalted 1960's concert recording (Spoleto Festival, once available as a Turnabout LP). I cannot deliver praise higher than that.

In short these are wonderful readings of the preludes that are very highly recommended.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OSBORNE On-par with the best 7 May 2009
By Debby Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Steven Osborne is one of the best in the business. At a relatively young age I already include him among the finest living pianists and look forward to his releases with the same eager anticipation that I get from a Zimerman, Freire, Suk,Argerich, or Lupu[how rare they have become though] disc.
For me, Richter was the Debussy king. Thus all interpretations that follow are subconciously judged at that standard. Most hardly come close. Gieseking is phenomenal yet different, I do love arrau[as mentioned by another reviewer-though I love everything ARrau does] and feel that this rendition certainly is on par with the best.
While Hamelin seems to be getting all the attention, Osborne has been quietly releasing stunning recording after stunning recording. I was introduced to him through his Alkan Esquisses[a must have by-the-by...which I, for some odd reason assumed was Hamelin for about a year before I actually took the time to look at the case-confusing it with other Hamelin recordings]-His Tippett was revelatory, his Alkan Cello Sonata as exciting as anything I heard all last year[that final mvmt...]=and as I write this I am listening to his Rachmaninov Preludes set to be released within the coming weeks[and again....they hold their own with the very best].
Hyperion sound quality continues to be the best in the business. And with a recent Freire album[just book I], I hope more people will go for the talent that the big name.[THough the Freire album has some extremely magical moments]. GET BOTH.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gallic perfection like a set of slightly cool jewels for us to admire but maybe not entirely love 3 Dec 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There is no doubt that Steven Osborne has all the technique required to deliver all that Debussy requires of his pianists on paper.
These are meticulously crafted gems where the impression is that everything has been thought through with the greatest care and finally presented glittering with polished perfection. The recording from 2006 is admirable too in presenting this with impressive fidelity.

So far so good and for many this will be more than enough and rather more than might be expected yet there is just that Gallic coolness, a possible holding back of emotion, that I don't sense in the best of alternatives. Three recent alternatives may serve to illustrate what I suspect to be the case - and please note my reluctance to be too forthright over this, possibly contentious, point.

The much admired and award winning set by Krystian Zimerman is certainly one of the finest currently available and he brings a far more aggressive approach to these works. There is technical perfection here to be sure and, additionally, there is a passion missing in Osborne's account. I can also agree that for some there is too much passion here and not enough of that Gallic reserve.

There is more reserve in the account of Thibaudet, who as a Frenchman, probably has a more intimate understanding of Gallic reserve. He too, has plenty of technique at his command but eschews the open emotion and bravura of Zimerman preferring a cooler approach altogether. Some have found him too cool, even emotionally detached, but not in my opinion, more so than Osborne.

My last example is that of another young Frenchman, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet who has also been the recipient of much praise and awards for his complete Debussy. Here we have a definitely warmer approach than that offered by both Osborne and Thibaudet but without the aggressiveness of Zimerman.

All of these individually very fine players have received golden opinion for their Debussy preludes but they are really very different. I would suggest that in terms of warmth and coolness and ordering them in order of hot to cool I would place Zimerman as the hottest, Bavouzet as the warmest followed by Thibaudet with Osborne being the coolest of the four. This is not a value judgement in any way, just an attempt to give an objective comparison to aid choice.

So, bearing in mind the perceived variations as described above, for those who like their Debussy on the cool side I would suggest that Osborne should be a serious consideration along with Thibaudet. For those who like their Debussy hot, go for Zimerman and for those who like a certain warmth with their Debussy it may be that Bavouzet would be the best choice. All are very fine in their different ways and all are blessed with recordings that exactly match their interpretive style
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