There are plenty of Debussy recordings made by artists past and present — so what makes this release different? Two things, I think; Aleck Karis’ musicality and Bridge Records’ skill at piano recordings.
Right from the opening Etude, I was impressed. Pour Les “Cinq Doigts”: D’après Monsieur Czerny starts off with a simple scale but soon veers off in another direction.
Karis’ performance made it all sound spontaneous. As if he was the one wandering off from boring scales into much more interesting cascading harmonies.
The other etudes also benefit from Karis’ interpretations. My impression is that he not only gave thought as to what the character of each etude should be but how it should be in context with the etudes before and after it.
As I listened, each book of the Etudes seemed to have its own emotional arc — albeit a picaresque one. I also enjoyed the Children’s Corner. Karis plays these pieces in an innocent, light-hearted way that reminded me strongly of childlike innocence.
The piano is a difficult instrument to record, but Bridge Records knows how to do it. The instrument in this recording sounded natural, with the registers properly balanced. Karis uses the pedal sparingly here, and the accuracy of the recording lets me appreciate that subtle distinction.
Beautifully performed, and beautifully recorded. That’s what makes this release stand out in a crowded field.
Karis Plays Debussy
Claude Debussy: Etudes, Books I and II; Children’s Corner
Aleck Karis, piano