Alain Planès

Debussy: L'œuvre pour piano

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AllMusic Review by

While Alain Planès has the tone, the talent, and the temperament to play Debussy, he lacks one crucial thing: the right piano. In this five-disc Harmonia Mundi set of the complete piano works of Debussy, Planès used a Steinway on two discs, a Bechstein on one disc, a Blüthner on another, and an unidentified piano on the fifth. While the piano sound on the Steinway discs is excellent, the discs with other pianos are less satisfactory. The Bechstein disc includes both books of Préludes, and though Planés can clearly play the notes and cleanly bring out the inner lines and the impressionist harmonies, the piano is too low, too loud, and too rich for the music, and the result sounds more German than French. The Blüthner discs feature many of Debussy's best-known piano works, including the Suite Bergamasque, Children's Corner, and the two books of Images, but the piano again proves too heavy and too full for the music. The Steinway discs are more successful because the piano does less to interfere with the interpretations. Planès does not seem to be altogether up to the challenges of the Douze Études or L'isle joyeuse. He can successfully negotiate most of those works' keyboard acrobatics, but he falls down in the densest passages, and especially at the climaxes. Harmonia Mundi's digital sound is clean and close, though not especially evocative.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Préludes, Premier Livre
1 3:32
2 3:41
3 2:16
4 3:21
5 2:51
6 4:21
7 3:36
8 2:20
9 2:36
10 6:11
11 3:01
12 2:27
Préludes, Deuxième Livre
13 3:11
14 3:10
15 3:26
16 3:04
17 3:02
18 2:43
19 4:47
20 2:55
21 2:43
22 3:10
23 2:53
24 4:18
blue highlight denotes track pick