Thibaudet conjures Debussy’s distinctive sonic landscapes at Carnegie Hall

Jean-Yves Thibaudet performed Debussy’s comprehensive Préludes (Guides I and II) Sunday at Carnegie Corridor.

As a person learns to play the piano, the initially arms-on encounter with the tunes of Claude Debussy opens a new seem world. The significant box with hammers and strings, which Beethoven employed to argue, Chopin to sing, and Liszt to amaze, seems to dissolve into wind and h2o and clouds—if a person can purchase the skills to make the magic take place.

That 1st experience might nicely be with a single of the character parts Debussy referred to as Préludes, pursuing the illustrations of Chopin and Bach. He released them in two books of twelve every, in 1910 and 1913. 

It’s a fair guess that quite a few in the audience of Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s recital Sunday afternoon in Carnegie Hall ended up listening to new music they knew initially-hand from their piano lessons, as the French pianist elegantly traversed the entire set of 24, which array in technical difficulty from “early intermediate” to “advanced” to “you ought to be kidding,” and in subject matter matter from fog to a vaudeville show.

Pianists ordinarily find a fifty percent dozen or so Debussy preludes to make 1 phase of a recital program. But as Sunday’s complete functionality confirmed, the composer himself organized these parts for productive listening as a cycle, a gourmand repast with refreshing contrasts of temper and texture.

The cool grace of the initially piece of Reserve I, “Danseuses de Delphes” (Dancing Women of all ages of Delphi) eased the listener into this composer’s distinct sound entire world with soft gestures and the “ching” of antique finger cymbals. (This musical revolutionary’s fascination with the ancient entire world, revisited afterwards in the cycle with the meditative “Canope” (Funerary Urn), is just 1 of the intriguing paradoxes of his identity.)

Thibaudet’s palette of piano colours was not the broadest, but he was keenly informed of, and capable to project, the way Debussy’s composing for the instrument moves on distinct planes concurrently, complementing each individual other like flavors in a dish. In “Danseuses,” flowing clothes contrasted with gentle percussion. In the future piece, “Voiles” (Sails), boats bobbed at anchor (a deep, repeated B flat) as a puff of wind ruffled the drinking water.

In contrast, Debussy’s desire in the motoric forces in nature could end result in toccata-like piano producing, as in “Le vent dans la plaine” (The Wind in the Basic), a chromatic swirl of trills pierced by lightning-like flashes. Afterwards in the group, Thibaudet’s technical prowess shone however brighter in “Ce qu’a vu le vent de l’ouest” (What the West Wind Observed), a breathtaking evocation of an Atlantic storm, accumulating and bursting with full drive all about the keyboard.

The established was liberally seasoned with travelogues, melodious or humorous: the composer visited Scotland in the airy “La fille aux cheveux de lin” (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) and “Bruyères”  (Heather), Spain in the brooding habanera of “La puerta del vino” (The Wine Gate) and the comical “La sérénade interrompue” (The Interrupted Serenade), Italy in the sunshine-drenched “Les collines d’Anacapri” (The Hills of Anacapri), England in the whimsical “Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.,” and America in the banjo-buying “Minstrels” and the clown portrait “General Lavine–eccentric.”

“Les collines” and “La sérénade” noticed early situations of a issue that cropped up elsewhere in the evening: Thibaudet’s ebullient speedy tempos leading to some particulars to be missing in the huge corridor that may have appear by fine in a more compact place. All the additional to be savored, then, were being the layered textures of the slow pieces: the seasonal melancholy of “Feuilles mortes” (Useless Leaves) and “Des pas sur la neige” (Footsteps on the Snow), and the watery majesty of “La cathédrale engloutie” (The Engulfed Cathedral).

In addition to Mr. Pickwick and the eccentric “general,” Thibaudet drew distinct portraits, Shakespearean or mythical, in the volatile “La danse de Puck,” the charming and vanishing “Les fées sont d’exquise danseuses” (Fairies Are Exquisite Dancers), and the teasing, not totally benevolent “Ondine” (Drinking water Nymph).

Debussy disliked remaining referred to as an “impressionist” composer, but the label was tough to dismiss in this sort of atmospheric parts as “Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir” (“Sounds and scents flip in the night air”—a line from Baudelaire), “Brouillards” (Mists), and “La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune” (The Terrace of Audiences in Moonlight). Thibaudet brought his most delicate contact to these evanescent visions.

Compact as the plan was at a minimal in excess of an hour and a half with intermission, by the finish the listener was prepared for some flash, which the composer and the pianist thoughtfully supplied with the very last two preludes of Guide II: the etude-like “Les tierces alternées” (Alternating Thirds), in which Thibaudet magically made a melody arise from the blur of his overlapping fingers, and the witty, wonderful, and fantastically hard “Feux d’artifice” (Fireworks).

Called consistently back again to the phase, the pianist responded at previous with a single encore, a placid and, yes, impressionistic rendering of Liszt’s Consolation No. 3 in D-flat big.

Carnegie Corridor presents pianist Schaghajegh Nosrati in a recital of works by Haydn, Bach and Alkan, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Corridor. carnegiehall.org.

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