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Although perhaps not quite as successful as the first two volumes Debussy: Piano Works, Vol. 1 Debussy - Piano Works, Volume 2 of the five François-Joël Thiollier recorded for Naxos, this CD is still very much worth hearing. Recorded in a Parisian church in January 1996, the producer, Joël Perrot, captured a good acoustic with the soft, translucent piano sound suiting Debussy very well indeed. As the CD was recorded at quite a low volume, a small adjustment to your controls will open up the sound.

The two (small) disappointments happen to be the last two tracks on the CD. These are "La plus que lente (valse)" and "L'Isle joyeuse". Here Thiollier's free and relaxed apporach doesn't quite come off, in my view. Gieseking Debussy - Complete Piano Works and Kocsis Debussy: Piano Music have the measure of these two brief pieces.

Elsewhere, I really like Thiollier's approach to the two sets of "Images", "Estampes", and "Images oubliées", where his free and personal approach is, I find, most rewarding. These dreamy, impressionistic, works are almost perfectly done (to my taste) and I find very little to criticise as an amateur listener. Recommended.
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on 24 June 2012
I should say that I entirely agree with Mark Meldon's review. This is Debussy playing of a very high order -- perfectly atuned to the idiom, every piece well shaped, with many exquisite nuances. Even if it is not quite in the top, magisterial rank of (say) Gieseking or Richter, it is playing that with its unforced flow bears (as I have found) repeated, indeed constant, listening -- which more strongly characterized performances do not. I admit that the playing of the two pieces added at the end (La plus que lente and L'Isle joyeuse) falls rather flat. But what I would add is that this is the best performance I have heard of the 'Images oubliees', an early set composed in 1894 and not published till long after the ocmposer's death; it is quite fascinating in the way it anticipates in many respects Debussy's mature piano writing -- more, in fact, than the later 'Pour le piano'. Now this set has not been recorded by the great Debussy players. Not only so, but they inspire Thiollier to some of his best playing -- for example, where in a series of thick chords in the first of them he uses rubato to achieve extraordinary intensity. This makes this CD a recording not to be missed.
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on 18 February 2016
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