Claude Debussy – Suite Bergamasque; Ballade; Pour le Piano; Arabesque; Images Book 1; Images Book 2 Elaine Rodrigues: pf
Elaine Rodrigues plays Claude Debussy the way Debussy would have loved to be played. “One must forget the piano has hammers,” he once said. And so it is with this performance of The Maestro’s repertoire. Miss Rodrigues applies, to those hammers he spoke of, the kind of touch needed to make the music live and breathe and come alive. The black dots simply leap off the page and dance in the air above the listening room. It seems as if that mysterious relationship between the way Miss Rodrigues every finger depresses each piano key and the effect that has on the complex mechanics of the hammer is ever so gentle; ever so natural.
This is true everywhere on this disc, and you hear this immediately (especially, of course) on the iconic “Clair de lune”, the third movement of “Suite Bergamasque” where Debussy expressly instructed not simply andante, but trés expressif. Throughout this masterpiece Miss Rodrigues has these moments that could provide a masterclass with careful control of nuanced dynamics and hue.
Yet the hammers are all-too-present, and not because of some requisite hard-edged playing as on “Arabesque”. She also shows that keeping rhythm supple is as important as touch; though it hardly needs to be metronomic and must have the kind of elasticity that the best interpretations of Debussy are made of. “Pour le Piano” could not be better interpreted than by Miss Rodrigues. It is a commanding performance – as it ought to be in the dazzling arpeggios and liquid runs of the “Prelude” and as lithe and well-mannered as fairies hop-scotching on both the “Sarabande” and the Toccata”.
Miss Rodrigues informs each work with generous use of the pedal and a decidedly resonant sound. These and her other undoubted virtues shine brightly throughout the programme. There is compelling playing everywhere on this, a disc to die for…
Released – 2018
Label – Navona Records (NV6164)
Runtime – 1:26:33