Preludes Books 1 & 2
mode 322/23 Claude DEBUSSY: Preludes, Books 1 & 2 — Haydée Schvartz, piano (2-CDs)
1–12. Preludes, Book I (1909–10) 47:01
1–12. Preludes, Book II (1912–13) 48:20
13. Ain’t it funny what a difference just a few hours make 1:09
(by Henry Blossom & Alfred G. Robbin)
Bryan Church, baritone
14. Preludes, Book I: 6. Des pas sur la neige 4:50
Awarded the PREMIO GARDEL (Argentine equivalent of The Grammy) for 2021 BEST CLASSICAL ALBUM!! *
It may seem odd to some to find a release of Debussy’s music on Mode Records. But actually not, for Debussy is one of the forefathers of the musical developments of the second part of the 20th century.
This recording of the complete Preludes by Haydée Schvartz had its genesis during her studies with pianist and new music specialist Yvar Mikhashoff. Mikhashoff intrigued Schvartz with the titles of the Preludes, which Debussy curiously placed at the end of each.
The booklet’s texts are written by Debussy scholar Denis Herlin, who delves into Debussy’s life, the Preludes, and their titles. The lavishly illustrated booklet contains images referencing these titles.
Bonus tracks: Ms. Schvartz is joined by baritone Bryan Church for the song “Ain’t it funny what a difference a few hours make” from the musical “The Yankee Consul” which Debussy quotes in “Minstrels.” Plus an alternate take of Prelude 6 from Book 1, illustrating two different approaches to this music.
The 20-page book contains texts in English and French by Herlin and Schvartz.
Argentine pianist Haydée Schvartz is already known on Mode Records, having released two previous CDs with the label. She is active in new music as well as classical solo and chamber music repertoire and as a soloist with orchestras. Schvartz participated in the Argentinian premiere of John Cage’s Europera 5 and played the role of Clara Schumann in Gerardo Gandini’s opera Liederkreis at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. She presented the complete piano works of Luciano Berio for the first time in Argentina and Mexico.
* The Gardel Awards are the most important music awards granted in Argentina. They are organized and granted by the Argentine Chamber of Producers of Phonograms and Videograms (CAPIF). They are awarded annually and reward artistic activity carried out during the previous year.
HAYDEE SCHVARTZ’s recording of DEBUSSY’s “PRELUDES” awarded the PREMIO GARDEL (Argentine equivalent of The Grammy) for 2021 BEST CLASSICAL ALBUM!!
The Gardel Awards are the most important music awards granted in Argentina. Organized and granted by the Argentine Chamber of Producers of Phonograms and Videograms (CAPIF). They are awarded annually and reward artistic activity carried out during the previous year.
Debussy is the great gateway to the music of the 20th century. This release of Claude Debussy’s Preludes (Books I and II), in the hands of the pianist Haydée Schvartz, bursts into the chaos of 2020 with its beauty. The Argentine interpreter, an expert in contemporary music, took nothing less than 17 years in the process of creating this object. “Object” in the most respectful sense of the word, a union of materials that not only contains its exquisitely recorded interpretation on two CDs, but also a book with notes by the musicologist Denis Herlin and curious images related to the works.
Original, complete Spanish text:
Finalmente en la noche del día de ayer (a las 23.30 hs) se conoció el mejor álbum de música clásica de los Premios Gardel 2021: Debussy preludios para piano – Haydeé Schvartz.
Los Premios Gardel son los premios a la música más importantes concedidos en Argentina. Son organizados y otorgados por la Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (CAPIF). Se entregan anualmente y premian la actividad artística realizada durante el año anterior.
Sobre el disco ganador: Debussy preludios para piano – Haydeé Schvartz.
Debussy significa una gran puerta de acceso a la música del siglo XX. La publicación de los preludios de Claude Debussy (libros I y II), en manos de la pianista Haydée Schvartz, irrumpe con su belleza en el caos del 2020. A la intérprete argentina, experta en el repertorio de música contemporánea, le llevó nada menos que 17 años el proceso de creación de este objeto.
Objeto en el sentido más respetuoso de la palabra, proyectado como una unión de materiales que no sólo contiene su interpretación exquisitamente grabada en dos CDs, sino también un libro con notas del musicólogo Denis Herlin y curiosas imágenes relacionadas con las obras.
Es notable la inclusión de dos bonus tracks: una obra de A. G. Robbin grabada junto al barítono Bryan Church, y una toma alternativa del sexto preludio del libro primero. Schvartz argumenta que Ain’t It Funny What a Difference Just a Few Hours Make fue incluida como una ampliación del mundo Debussy a partir del repertorio de otro compositor, ya que esa obra comparte material musical con el preludio Minstrels. La segunda versión de Pasos sobre la nieve se incorporó a los CDs como un alegato conceptual de la pianista, ya que entre ambas versiones hay “sutiles diferencias que tienen que ver con la interpretación, que nunca es una sola aunque yo sea la misma. Por eso cierta música sobrevive, porque siempre está siendo visitada.”
Leer más sobre cada uno de los álbumes nominados aquí:
— 2021 Premio Gardel, 24 July 2021
Beautifully played and recorded Debussy Préludes by Haydée Schvartz.
This most welcome collection of the complete Debussy Préludes, performed by Argentine pianist Haydée Schvartz, and issued by the mode label, was recorded at the New England Conservatory of Music’s Jordan Hall in the summer of 2003. From a purely sonic perspective, it is a glorious achievement, with the piano reproduced in sound both natural and arresting in its impact. The tone is full, rich, beautiful, and encompassing a grand dynamic range. There is also ample detail, but without any sense of artificial spotlighting. And we are fortunate that the recording/production team achieved such superlative results, because Haydée Schvartz’s renditions of the Debussy Préludes deserve them to the fullest. There are several marvelous qualities in Schvartz’s interpretations, but the one that most often came to my mind is embodied in a comment by Clara Schumann. Once, when a piano student attempted to impress by playing a passage at lightning speed, Schumann admonished: “Why hurry over beautiful things? Why not linger and enjoy them?” And that is what Haydée Schvartz does in her exploration of the Debussy.
Schvartz’s phrasing is that of an artist who has thought a great deal about the music, and who seeks to convey fully the work’s melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, coloristic, and narrative elements. Schvartz proves to be a masterful storyteller, and she delights in conveying the imagery conjured by Debussy’s Impressionist writing. Whether it’s the mysterious grandeur of The Sunken Cathedral, the brittle humor of General Lavine—eccentric, or the flitting magic of Fireworks, Schvartz proves equal to the challenge. And her approach to the Debussy Préludes, while rich in detail and variety, never impinges upon their sense of forward motion.
It should be added that when the music calls for brilliant, virtuoso execution, Schvartz is highly impressive in those moments as well. As a very welcome bonus, pianist Schvartz joins baritone Brian Church for Henry Blossom and Alfred G. Robyn’s song “Ain’t it funny what a difference just a few hours make”. That song, from the musical comedy The Yankee Consul, makes an appearance in Debussy’s Prélude Minstrels. Schvartz also includes another, and quite different rendition of the Prélude Footsteps on the Snow, demonstrating her conviction that: “I truly believe in two different musical approaches to this prelude in relation to the sonorous construction of the piece.”
It would be wonderful if more artists (recording space permitting) would share these kinds of contrasting insights with us. Schvartz’s liner notes re. Debussy, and the history, inspiration, and music of the Préludes are engaging and informative. This is a laudable achievement in every way, and one that I am delighted to recommend.
— Ken Meltzer, Fanfare, January 2021
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