Russell Sherman

Debussy: Estampes; Images Book 2; Préludes Book 2

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Best known for his athletically racing, intellectually bracing recordings of Beethoven's sonatas and concertos, American pianist Russell Sherman here releases his first Debussy disc. And though some might question Sherman's ability to move from the heroic romanticism of Beethoven to romantic impressionism of Debussy, Sherman's quickly puts those doubts to rest by bringing entirely different qualities to his playing than have previously defined his recordings. As always, Sherman's technique is awe-inspiring: in some of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire, he exhibits the kind of impeccable perfection that is the hallmark of players like Pollini and Michelangeli. But Sherman adjusts his approach to accommodate Debussy, cutting back on the sharp-edged muscularity and instead taking the more subtle, poetic turn that the music demands. Listen, for example, to the nuanced balances of Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut, the impetuous expressivity of La soirée dans Grenade, or the technical fireworks of Feux d'artifice. Though longtime Debussy fans may already have favorite recordings of these popular works -- one thinks of the aging but gracious Gieseking, the warmly sensuous Arrau, and the exquisitely beautiful Michelangeli -- Sherman's Debussy recording deserves to be heard by anyone who loves the music. Avie's digital recording is richly lustrous and detailed.

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