Angela Hewitt

Debussy: Suite bergamasque; Children's Corner; Pour le piano; Masques; L'isle joyeuse; Deux Arabesques

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Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has devoted many creative energies to Bach, and it shows in this reading of Debussy favorites (and a few less common works): Hewitt's is a rather precise and tempo-consistent Debussy, light on the atmospherics but with technical agility to spare. What you'll think of this may well depend on how you see the nature of Debussy's break with the French Romantic tradition: did it involve a dryness of expression, or is the usual hazy vision the right one? If your answer tends toward the former, you're likely to find Hewitt's playing a revelation here. Even if you don't, there are many nice moments, like the perfectly balanced grace of Clair de lune (track 9) and of the lesser-known Deux arabesques (tracks 12 and 13). The total mastery of L'isle joyeuse is also going to be attractive for anyone. Conversely, even Hewitt backers may feel that the Children's Corner is lacking in a certain innocence. The inclusion of the early Danse, composed in 1890, is a bonus for both camps; this tonally adventurous piece, in the cheeky idiom of the Ariettes oubliées, is unmistakably stamped with his personality. The Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin was not really the right place to record this music, but in a less sonorous venue Hewitt's readings would have come out even more bare.

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