I love Debussy. I think he was a giant among composers. And I suspect that some or all of the Preludes, Books 1 and 2, are probably part of your own library. Some pianists capture the dreamy, impressionistic qualities. Others play them in a neo-classical manner, letting the notes speak for themselves. I love having differing approaches to go to in order to keep my attitude fresh. I’ll even throw in my favorite jazz impressions by Jacques Lousier with his trio– highly recommended, by the way!
And now, here’s Ilya Itin! When I first played his Debussy Preludes (Books 1 and 2 available separately) I was gobsmacked by what I was hearing. Here’s a quote from Itin: “Debussy himself is ‘recording’ human experience, revealing veiled messages ranging from bemused comedy to the shards of a shattered universe. Ever fascinating and often terrifying…” This is Debussy that doesn’t suggest flower petals. Without pounding the Steinway or exaggerating dynamics, Ilya Itin brings an undercurrent of natural strength that makes me feel like I’m living the music, rather than just listening.
Well, I see I am perhaps waxing too poetically, so let me just suggest you try some samples from these two LP length albums. I don’t care how much Debussy you have, you will thank me. Oh yes— The recording quality is world class.
DSD 64fs, 128fs, 256fs
DSD 64fs, 128fs, 256fs
Have you heard about Ning Feng! Violinist Ning Feng has been garnering attention worldwide for his incredible skill and artistry. I’ve enjoyed his albums, but for some reason I had not heard the set that includes Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D. The five movement Scottish Fantasy is something new to me, and I found it charming and beautiful. Bruch was inspired to compose it (1880) by the writings of Sir Walter Scott. It’s delightful allusions to Scottish tunes are a treat. I think a wonderful time is being had by all involved.
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto needs no introduction— There are a zillion recordings, but this one is elevated by the grace and skill of the soloist. Perhaps you DO need another recording of this. I really should add that the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the young conductor, Yang Yang is quite fine.
Bruch: Scottish Fantasy
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D
Ning Feng, violin
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Yang Yang, conductor
In times of political uncertainty, it’s interesting to take a look a similar periods in the past. Here are three works written in the 1930’s for string Orchestra: Britten’s Variations on a Theme By Frank Bridge, Hartmann’s Concerto funebre for Solo Violin and String Orchestra, and Bartok’s Divertimento for String Orchestra. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra under Gordan Nikolic is quite fine in these works, and the sound is excellent. These are modern (in a sense) but are quite accessible. As life goes on, my appreciation for Benjamin Britten and Bela Bartok grows more and more. I’m still in a beginner’s mode for Karl Amadeus Hartmann, but this piece is a good place for beginning. Take a listen:
Britten: Frank Bridge Variations
Hartmann: Concerto Funèbre
Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
Gordan Nikolic, conductor