Lilya Zilberstein has already taken on some of the virtuoso pillars of the repertoire for DG—Brahms's Paganini Variations, the Mussorgsky Pictures, Rachmaninov's Third Concerto and so it is fascinating to hear her in music of a more subtle evocation and delicacy. And although her Debussy and Ravel are hardly consistent or to the manner born, they are rarely less than individual or distinguished. Like other Russian pianists before her she places greater emphasis on the music's sensuous and expressive warmth than on its formal clarity. Her response to say, ''Le soiree dans Grenade'' (from Estampes) is richly coloured and inflected (a reminder, perhaps, of Falla's awe of Debussy's Hispanicism) and in ''Jardins sous la pluie'' her virtuosity evokes a coldly drenched and windswept garden its flowers momentarily bejewelled by passing sunlight. She is also highly successful in the more objective patterning of Pour le piano, making the opening Prelude's fortissimo chording and shooting-star glissandos resonate with unusual power.
The violin and piano sonatas of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel draw on foreign idioms: gypsy music in Debussy's case and African-American blues in Ravel's. But they remain completely French works, spiced with something exotic, and British violinist Jennifer Pike forges interpretations that keep this in mind. Start with the "Blues" slow movement of the Ravel Violin Sonata in G major: Pike and her accompanist, Martin Roscoe, avoid exaggerating the bluesy qualities of the music and instead emphasize the odd, almost tense disconnection between violin and piano that, combined with the languid blues melodies, gives this piece its special piquancy.
Since the first performance of Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien on May 22nd, 1911, there has been much speculation about the reasons which could have led Debussy to compose incidental music for the play of Gabriele d'Annunzio and about the validity and authenticity of the musical work. Granted, the circumstances in which the piece was created are grounds for suspicion.
Taken from the best Debussy cycle to appear in the CD era, these repackagings gather the items that one-disc-at-a-time buyers tend to miss. Playing combines flair, care, and great musical enjoyment. High points include the superb Anne Queffélec as solo pianist in the Fantaisie and some rare items: the Rapsodie for alto sax, the whimsical orchestration of La plus que lente featuring cimbalom, and piano pieces scored by other hands. The Ulster Hall acoustic is spacious but clear.
Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.
Pianist Marita Viitasalo’s solo album on Ondine is a program focused on works by Claude Debussy (1862–1918). Préludes, Book II was composed during 1912–13 and represent the composer’s late style. Suite bergamasque, published in 1905, is one of the most well-known pieces in classic piano literature. It inclundes Claire de lune, possibly Debussy’s most famous piano piece. Marita Viitasalo studied first under Professor Timo Mikkilä in Helsinki. She continued her studies in Rome (Rodolfo Caporali) and in Vienna (Dieter Weber). Viitasalo is award-winning concert pianist and respected accompanist who has performed, among others, in Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Paris, London, Edinburgh and New York.