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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An award winning set which may be too clear-headed for some tastes
This award winning set from 1991 will not be to everyone's tastes. The recording and the playing are perfectly suited to each other being exceptionally clear and precise and with wide dynamic range.

The playing on this pair of discs is, as mentioned above, exceptionally clear and precise and came as quite shock to me when I bought it some 20 years ago...
Published 19 months ago by I. Giles

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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very clear, that's all.
Krystian Zimerman will be one of the best pianists in the late 20th and 21st century. Tone he produces is so crystal clear, not harsh at all.
In this recording, that's surprising every single note is, as I said, extremely clear, the clearest! However I would say it is TOO clear, sounds like all notes shining under the sun. I think Debussy's music very much needs...
Published on 4 April 2009 by Hanabi


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An award winning set which may be too clear-headed for some tastes, 14 Sept. 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Debussy: Preludes (Audio CD)
This award winning set from 1991 will not be to everyone's tastes. The recording and the playing are perfectly suited to each other being exceptionally clear and precise and with wide dynamic range.

The playing on this pair of discs is, as mentioned above, exceptionally clear and precise and came as quite shock to me when I bought it some 20 years ago. Everything is laid out for inspection without the slightest hint of softness or textural shading. It is like going into a room with all the main lights on rather than finding the room lit by numerous lamps on tables and other furniture. There are no subtleties of nuance attempted in the normal way allowing for shadows and half-lights metaphorically.

In addition, the dynamic range is wide with the fortissimos verging on the aggressive. The winds in 'le vent dans la plaine' (no. 3) or 'Ce que a vu le vent d'ouest' (no. 7) for example might as well feature thunderstorms at times of greatest impact. Throughout both discs one is made very much aware that the piano is a percussion instrument with considerable percussive powers. Speeds are are also tackled in the same way.

In Zimerman's defence I would suggest that Debussy himself may have given the lead as regards such a strong approach to the wide dynamic and tempi range. For example, his own guidelines as regards the performance of 'La puerto del vino' from the second book is that is to be played 'with brusque oppositions of extreme violence and passionate tenderness.' It is most unlikely that any composer suggesting such playing anywhere within a set would consider it as an isolated incidence of such an approach. It is more likely to be indicative of a general and overall approach to interpreting the whole set. Debussy may not be the shrinking violet that some interpreters can make him out to be and Zimerman may be nearer Debussy's ideal than some may suppose.

Therefore, if parts of this review sound rather negative, I would counter that by adding that this is among the most exciting Debussy playing that I have ever heard and as such it remains exceedingly rewarding in its own unique way. This is certainly far from the world of Bavouzet's award winning series which I would suggest is a far safer bet. However, there is no denying the power and force of Zimerman's vision and all the notes are there as written by Debussy on the page. What is missing is what is not written and Zimerman's view would no doubt be that what is not written should not be played!

I would suggest that this set would best be considered as an alternative second set for collectors. Heard on its own terms it is an extraordinarily effective set and one I would not wish to be without. However, Bavouzet remains a much safer bet for limited collections.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendous, 24 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Debussy: Preludes (Audio CD)
It seems that I differ slightly from the two people who have already reviewed this CD!

They speak with distaste at Zimerman and Michelangeli, yet it is these two performers who, I find, have got closer to the heart of this music than anyone else who I have heard. Yes it's very 'clear,' (whatever they mean by that), but it's also incredibly beautiful. Dynamics, tempi, even texture (and it's rare to be able to talk about a piece of piano music having a 'texture,' but in Zimerman's hands these preludes do) are all beautifully brought out.

For me the overall effect isn't cold. At all.

I didn't think that I could find a recording to equal Michelangeli's (and in fact, I'm not sure that this one quite does in the end), but this is absolutely stunning playing and deserves to be heard. Prelude numbers 5 and 10 from Book 1, in particular, are absolutely incredible.

Zimerman brings to this music his own nuances and when listening to these preludes I heard lines and harmonies which I had never heard before, and I don't think that I've heard another performer who makes the melodies actually "sing" as much as he does. Michelangeli is perfect but here there's just a little more spontaneity which I really love. Incroyable!
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very clear, that's all., 4 April 2009
This review is from: Debussy: Preludes (Audio CD)
Krystian Zimerman will be one of the best pianists in the late 20th and 21st century. Tone he produces is so crystal clear, not harsh at all.
In this recording, that's surprising every single note is, as I said, extremely clear, the clearest! However I would say it is TOO clear, sounds like all notes shining under the sun. I think Debussy's music very much needs contrast, I mean shade and shadow, feeling of distance veiled sound somthing like that. There is no sense of these in Mr. Zimerman's Debussy. Everything is just bright. It is good but lack of nuance.
Technical perfection is brilliant.
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