Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was a master of Debussy interpretation. His understanding of Debussy is something that can be felt, heard, experienced. Michelangeli's Debussy has a quality of transcending time; though of course I don't know (aside from the somewhat unobjective piano rolls of Debussy) how Debussy played, it just feels right when the wonder that was Michelangeli performs the French master's work, like he is doing what Debussy did when the works were composed.
Presented first are Sets 1 and 2 of Debussy's Images, including some of his more popular works like 'Reflets dans l'eau' and 'Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut' (I wish the 3rd Set were included, but understand the 3rd Set runs 30 to 40 minutes making time an issue). Of the first Set, the 3rd in Set 1, 'Mouvement' is most enticing, most wonderful (in my humble opinion); Michelangeli plays this piece perfectly. In Set 2, the 1st, 'Cloches a travers les feuilles', is best (again, humble opinion).
2 of Debussy's 24 "Preludes" are offered and I must confess I find the pieces strange choices, not because I don't like them, because they don't (yet again, humble opinion) showcase Debussy's and Michelangeli's mastery. 'Canope', the 10th piece in Book II of Preludes, is a fine piece and Michelangeli performs it flawlessly. 'Bruyeres', the 12th piece from in Book II, is also played marvelously. ABM's performances of Debussy's Preludes I and Preludes II, with pieces like 'La fille aux cheveux de lin' or 'La Cathedrale engloutie', 'Les fees sont d'exquises danseuses', 'La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune' or 'Ondine' are all marvelous and better display ABM's genius appreciation for and interpretation of Debussy; but alas, I digress (apologies).
"Children's Corner", despite the ridiculous assertion in the liner notes that they are "a collection of infantile sketches", is a marvel and the Suite is some of my favorite of Debussy's extensive works for piano. Michelangeli (I agree with the liner notes here) performs these beautifully, transforming them "into a marvel of colours". My favorite of this Suite has always been 'Golliwogg's cakewalk' and Michelangeli's flair is evident as, though I cannot say exactly why, there is something about his performance that is just remarkably different from other performances.
This remastered recording is from 1963 and the sound is sub-par compared to modern recordings, but there are few virtuoso's the likes of ABM, so I am thankful for this of the angelic performance by Michelangeli, despite the somewhat flat sound.
On performance alone, this disc is certainly a 5 star effort; I, guiltily, take away a portion of a star because the sound is flawed, but, in honesty, I know this can't be helped. So, 4.5-4.75 stars.