Jean-Guihen Queyras

Debussy, Poulenc: Works for Cello & Piano

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Combining works by Debussy and Poulenc on an album may, to some, seem a bit ironic seeing as at one point, the latter railed against the music of the former. Poulenc was later to change his tune, though, and eventually became one of Debussy's most ardent admirers. The two were greatly responsible for a new direction in French music, which, ironically, required both of them to look to composers of the past for inspiration. Performing these two composers' works for cello and piano are cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and pianist Alexandre Tharaud. This duo has frequently collaborated in the past to great effect. Their performances of Debussy and Poulenc are equally insightful and technically commanding. Queyras's playing is meticulous throughout, paying careful attention to all of the subtle nuances in the score. His intonation is pristine and his left hand delivers even the most rapid passages with the utmost clarity. Balance between cello and piano is carefully detailed and listeners are given a true sense of dialogue between the two instruments. Queyras's sound is clear and sweet, though some listeners may find that fails to truly dig into the strings in an attempt to make a more perfumed, French sound. Queyras also tends to choose very bright tempos. The opening movement of the Poulenc sonata, for example, is marked Allegro -- Tempo di Marcia, yet is played much faster than what typically might be thought of as a march tempo.

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