Debussy CD on Hyperion Records

2012-10-05 / Daily Telegraph / Geoffrey Norris

Debussy: Suite bergamasque; Children’s Corner; Pour le piano; Masques; L’Isle joyeuse; Deux Arabesques:

Angela Hewitt (piano); Hyperion CDA67898

Coming in near the end of the Debussy anniversary year, Angela Hewitt’s new disc is proof of that old maxim about keeping the best until last. Hewitt has the knack of bringing this music acutely alive as much in her piano-playing as in her spirited and informative booklet notes, a shining example of how these things can be done. For the ear, it is the beautifully judged pianism that makes this programme so thoroughly engaging. How many times have we heard Clair de lune” or “The Golliwog’s Cakewalk”? Dozens, probably, but Hewitt approaches them with a freshness and finesse of inflection that fix the images anew, with the wit of the “Cakewalk” crisp and perky, the atmosphere of “Clair de lune” airy and tranquilly rapt.

Hewitt’s spectrum of touch, her fluency and sense of colour are deployed with equal enchantment in the first of the two arabesques, her lightness, rhythmic precision and varieties of tonal weight making the second arabesque into a glistening, fanciful filigree. She has thought deeply about the diversities of style and idea that run through Children’s Corner, the Suite bergamasque, Deux Arabesques and Pour le piano, but each miniature comes across with captivating spontaneity.

Hewitt brilliantly and sensitively points up the traits that lend the music such distinctive character and evocative presence, not least in an account of “L’Isle joyeuse” that is pure, ravishing radiance.