Roger Muraro

Debussy: Études; Olivier Messiaen: Fauvettes de l'Hérault - Concert des garrigues

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This release is part of a large group of Debussy recordings issued by Harmonia Mundi for the 2018 centenary of the composer's death. It might not seem to be an essential item: there are plenty of recordings of the Debussy Etudes available, and the Messiaen is a work reconstructed by pianist Roger Muraro from an incomplete project itself intended to honor Debussy. This beautifully recorded album is worth consideration, however, from fans of either of these composers. Muraro was a student of Messiaen's wife, Yvonne Loriod, and his frequent Messiaen recordings thus have an air of original authority. He worked for some years on the Fauvettes de l'Hérault (Warblers of the Hérault) set, subtitled Concert des garrigues (Concerto of the garrigues, scrubland of southern France). Messiaen left a lot of music, but reused some of it on another commission and for various reasons, never finished the original work, which apparently was the concerto in the subtitle; Muraro retitled it because of the indications of birdsong in the score. Thus Messiaen's materials consisted of more than just notes, and there's a lot here to chew on for Messiaen lovers. As for the Debussy, there are more finely shaded recordings of these Etudes, but Muraro's brisk, precise approach may also perhaps be taken as representative of what he learned from Loriod, and it reflects the purely technical titles Debussy gave to these études ("pour les agréments," for the ornaments). The performance does not sound conventionally Debussy-ian, but it fits with classicizing turn the composer's music took toward the end of his life. Recommended along with the other releases in the Harmonia Mundi set.

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