This release may set a record for the temporal distance between two volumes of the same set: Maurizio Pollini's first book of Debussy Preludes appeared in 1999, and he took 19 years to ponder the present release. For all that, Pollini's overall approach is consistent. It's not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but no one can doubt the clarity and the thought that has gone into the smallest details. This is rather Bachian Debussy, with little atmosphere even in a piece like Mists, and a great deal of consideration of harmonic structure. Does the humor that is part of Debussy's world get lost if you approach it this way? That's probably up to the individual listener to decide, but Pollini can't be called dour. A major attraction of this release is the presence of Pollini's son Daniele in the late and relatively infrequently performed two-piano work En blanc et noir, where we encounter Bach explicitly, and, as it happens, negatively: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott is made to symbolize the German enemy in World War I. This is a fascinating and deeply allusive work, and the father-son team has an X factor that gives the performance considerable power. Deutsche Grammophon contributes fine engineering from the Herkulessaal in Berlin to this characteristic second Debussy round from Pollini.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Préludes, 2e Livre|
III. La Puerta del Vino. Mouvement de habanera avec de brusques oppositions d'extrême violence et de passionnée douceur
|En blanc et noir|