Debussy: Préludes; Works For Two Pianos


Alexei Lubimov, Alexei Zuev ECM New Series 467 4735 (2 CDs)****

Recording Debussy on historic instruments is not a new idea. Philippe Cassard used a Bechstein from 1900, and Stany David Lasry played Erards from 1874 and 1921 in recordings made in the 1990s (the Cassard was recently reissued by Decca). Alexei Lubimov here uses a 1925 Bechstein for the first book of Preludes and a 1913 Steinway for the second, and pairs them for performances of two-piano arrangements of the orchestral Nocturnes and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune with Alexei Zuev.

The older instruments tend to produce a mellower tone that’s less even in finish than their modern equivalents, and they’re apt to sound more stressed under pressure. You might think of the effect as hand-finished rather than machine perfect. Even more fascinating are the textures and sonorities from the two together. See