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Celestial Harmonies
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National living treasure Roger Woodward has produced an astounding account of the Debussy Preludes: individual, idiomatic, intimate, imaginative, intelligent. Woodward, the San Francisco-based Australian, explores the limits of this stunning and diverse musical world. He is particularly interested in sonorities and soundscapes, in which he is aided by a superb recording, but shape and sensuality are not neglected. Even the CD medium is challenged, with both books of 12 preludes on one CD of 79:43 minutes (17 seconds to spare). The pianist himself considers it possibly the best recording of his career. Key tracks: Stunning articulation and virtuosity in Feux d'artifice, or rapt simplicity in La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin, the rich depths of La cathédrale engloutie.

Barney Zwartz, The Age, Melbourne, Australia, July 26, 2009

Anders diese CD jeder Ton, jeder Klang jede Pedalisierung dient einem Zweck, dem Zewck den musikalischen Gedanken des Komponisten zu formulieren.?Bescheidener und aufrichtiger kann man als Musiker nicht sein. Spannender und intelligenter kann ein Pianist nicht spielen.?Ich bin hingerissen von der CD.?Ich war schon vor Montag von der Künstlerschaft des Roger Woodward überzeugt, jetzt bin ich davon begeistert und möchte ihn feiern.?Das war die eigentliche Sensation des Konzertes am Montag seine Interpretation des Zyklus live zu erleben.?Und er spielt live, für uns, mit uns, mit dem Saal, mit dem Instrument .?Ein Glück dabeigewesen zu sein.?

Hans Wiedemann, BR-TV

“The CD is a masterpiece; you can play it differently but not better. How different this CD is: every note, every sound, every use of the pedals were put to good use and served a clear purpose, the purpose being to define the musical intentions of the composer. A musician cannot possibly be more humble and more sincere. A pianist cannot play more excitingly and more intelligently. I am entirely won over by this CD. Even before the concert with the Hamel premiere, I was convinced of Roger Woodward’s artistry—now i am enthusiastic and i want to celebrate the feeling. The sensational aspect of the concert on Monday was to experience his interpretation of the Hamel cycle live. He played for us, with us, with the space, with the instrument—what a blessing to have been able to be present.”

the project

In the life of a concert pianist, there are high points when everything is falling into place allowing for the highest degree of creativity. Roger Woodward's first-ever complete recording of both books of the Préludes by Claude Debussy is a case in point. After a highly successful concert at the Chamber Music Hall of Radio Bremen in northern Germany, Woodward stayed on a few days for the recording. He enjoyed the ambiance, a magnificent Bösendorfer piano, restored by a factory technician for the recording, tuned to perfection and engineered beautifully. Altogether, it presents Australia's leading concert pianist at his very best, a recording which he himself singles out as a major achievement of a career now spanning close to five decades.

tracklist

 

Préludes premier livre

 
1 Danseuses de Delphes  
  Lent et grave 3'29"
2 Voiles  
  Modéré 4'11"
3 Le vent dans la plaine  
  Animé 2'19"
4 Les sons et les parfums tourent dans l'air du soir  
  Modéré 3'26"
5 Les collines d'A'anacapri  
  Très modéré 3'14"
6 Des pas sure la neige  
  Triste et lent 4'32"
7 Ce qu'a a vu le vent d'ouest  
  Animé et tumultueux 4'41"
8 La fille aux cheveux de lin  
  Très calme et doucement expressif 2'22"
9 La serenade interrompue  
  Modérément animé 3'24"
10 La cathédrale engloutie  
  Profondément calme 7'22"
11 La danse de Puck  
  Capricieux et léger 2'30"
12 Minstrels  
  Modéré 2'53"
 

Préludes deuxiéme livre

 
13 Brouillards  
  Modéré 2'46"
14 Feuilles mortes  
  Lent et mélancolique 2'33"
15 La Puerta del Vino  
  Mouvement de Habanera 3'14"
16 Les Fées sont d'exquises danseuses  
  Rapide et léger 2'49"
17 Bruyères  
  Calme, doucement expressif 2'25"
18 Général Lavine - eccentric  
  Dans le style et le mouvement d'un Cakewalk 2'26"
19 La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune  
  Lent 4'05"
20 Ondine  
  Scherzando 3'15"
21 Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C.  
  Grave 2'29"
22 Canope  
  Très calme et doucement triste 2'58"
23 Les tierces alternées  
  Modérément animé 2'46"
24 Feux d'artifice  
  Modérément animé 4'21"
  Total Time: 79'43"