Paul Jacobs was a specialist in the piano literature of the 20th century, which Debussy could be said to have influenced more than any other figure. Jacobs's recordings of the composer's major piano works remain exemplary--the playing is technically fluent and musically imaginative, and the accounts are notable not only for their penetrating insight but for a suavity and expressiveness that bring each piece to scintillating life. The piano sound is slightly veiled but warm and resonant. --Ted Libbey
NR (Not Rated)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It's so easy to make Debussy sound wrong -- one moment of bad timing or a misjudged accent and the dreamlike quality is lost, taking the listener right out of the piece. Jacobs' judgement of tempo and accenting sounds effortless. The music flows from him, catching Debussy's quicksilver changes of light and shade perfectly. These are older (1979) recordings of these timeless piano masterpieces, but the sound quality is excellent. They have been a mainstay in the Nonesuch catalog for many years now, and it's easy to understand why after you've heard them. Near-perfect Debussy, or as perfect as a flesh-and-blood piano player can hope to achieve. I've heard a lot of different pianists play these pieces, and Jacobs is the one I always come back to. One of the great classical music bargains.
Readers unfamiliar with these works are in for a treat - these are the greatest pure piano music composed after Chopin. These particular performances were once available on long playing record, usually on second rate vinyl. Hearing them now on CD, released from such a lousy setting, shows off the quality of both Jacob's performance and the recording engineer's work. Jacobs takes almost infinite pains on these works, sorting each vertical as well as anyone. This makes the CD an excellent second choice for someone who owns the music already. However, for those who do not yet have these pieces on CD I strongly suggest considering Francois in stereo. If you can handle the idea of such colorful music in monaural you can consider the Gieseking CDs. (Though I would never suggest these pieces be heard initially in monaural!)
Jacobs frequently turns these exquisite keyboard tone poems into modern etudes, and is not as convincing as several other performers in maintaining Debussy's...
Warm, populist, but sensitive. Very American, yet classic Debussy. A CD for the masses, but that's a good thing in this case.
Lucid, fluent, yet full of thickness and emotion and expression, yet still, warmth and impressionism at it's best (even though Debussy would have hated the latter part of this phrase).
Do not miss this recording. If you like Zimermann's Debussy Preludes (on DG 1994, as I do), this is the perfect antidote. PBS instead of Aristocracy, democracy instead of elitism.
Right in the spirit of these times.
Long live Big Bird, or better, if you believe the cover - Big Fish!
R U Rojas Wahl, Nov 17th 2012
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