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Debussy: The Complete Works For Piano Box set

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, January 21, 1997
$57.91 $12.98

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Editorial Reviews

These classic performances belong in the collection of anyone who cares about Debussy's piano music. Walter Gieseking's career was a troubled one--his pandering to the Nazi party cast a shadow over his last years, but the greatest irony of all was that this German nationalist turned out to be the greatest exponent of French music of his era. His Debussy playing marries an effortlessly subtle control of the keyboard to a real sense of fantasy. The music truly shimmers in his hands, and despite the limited range of the mono recording, the ear quickly adjusts. This is, in short, one of those classic recordings that critics and music lovers have enjoyed for nearly 50 years. So should you. --David Hurwitz

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Préludes Book I: I. Danseuses de Delphes (Lent et grave) - Walter Gieseking
  2. Préludes Book I: II. Voiles (Modéré) - Walter Gieseking
  3. Préludes Book I: III. Le vent dans Ia plaine (Animé) - Walter Gieseking
  4. Préludes Book I: IV. Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Modéré) - Walter Gieseking
  5. Préludes Book I: V. Les collines d'Anacapri (Trés modéré) - Walter Gieseking
  6. Préludes Book I: VI. Des pas sur la neige (Triste et lent) - Walter Gieseking
  7. Préludes Book I: VII. Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest (Animé et tumultueux) - Walter Gieseking
  8. Préludes Book I: VIII. La fille aux cheveux de lin (Trés calme et doucement expressif) - Walter Gieseking
  9. Préludes Book I: IX. La sérénade interrompue (Modérément animé) - Walter Gieseking
  10. Préludes Book I: X. La cathédrale engloutie (Profondément calme) - Walter Gieseking
  11. Préludes Book I: Xl. La danse de Puck (Capricieux et léger) - Walter Gieseking
  12. Préludes Book I: XII. Minstrels (Modéré) - Walter Gieseking
  13. Préludes Book II: I. Brouillards (Modéré) - Walter Gieseking
  14. Préludes Book II: II. Feuilles mortes (Lent et mélancolique) - Walter Gieseking
  15. Préludes Book II: III. La Puerta del Vino (Mouvement de Habanera) - Walter Gieseking
  16. Préludes Book II: IV. Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses (Rapide et léger) - Walter Gieseking
  17. Préludes Book II: V. Bruyéres (Calme) - Walter Gieseking
  18. Préludes Book II: VI. General Lavine - eccentric (Dans le style et le mouvement d'un Cakewalk) - Walter Gieseking
  19. Préludes Book II: VII. Le terrasse des audiences du clair de lune (Lent) - Walter Gieseking
  20. Préludes Book II: VIII. Ondine (Scherzando) - Walter Gieseking
  21. Préludes Book II: IX. Hommage à S. Pickwick, Esq., P.P.M.P.C. (Grave) - Walter Gieseking
  22. Préludes Book II: X. Canope (Trés calme et doucement triste) - Walter Gieseking
  23. Préludes Book II: XI. Les tierces alternées (Modérément animé) - Walter Gieseking
  24. Préludes Book II: XlI. Feux d'artifice (Modérément animé) - Walter Gieseking

Disc: 2

  1. Pour le piano: I. Prélude (Assez anime et tres rythme) - C. Debussy
  2. Pour le piano: II. Sarabande (Aved une elegance grave et lente) - C. Debussy
  3. Pour le piano: III. Toccata (Vif) - C. Debussy
  4. Estampes: I. Pagodes (Moderement anime) - C. Debussy
  5. Estampes: II. La soirée dans Grenade (Mouvement de Habanera) - C. Debussy
  6. Estampes: III. Jardins sous la pluie (Net et vif) - C. Debussy
  7. Images, Set I: I. Reflets dans l'eau (Andantino molto) - C. Debussy
  8. Images, Set I: II. Hommage à Rameau (Lent et grave) - C. Debussy
  9. Images, Set I: III. Mouvement (Anime) - C. Debussy
  10. Images, Set II: I. Cloches à travers les feuilles (Lent) - C. Debussy
  11. Images, Set II: II. Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (Lent) - C. Debussy
  12. Images, Set II: III. Poissons d'or (Anime) - C. Debussy
  13. Children's Corner: I. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (Moderement anime) - C. Debussy
  14. Children's Corner: II. Jimbo's Lullaby (Assez modere) - C. Debussy
  15. Children's Corner: III. Serenade for the Doll (Allegretto ma non troppo) - C. Debussy
  16. Children's Corner: IV. The Snow is Dancing (Moderement anime) - C. Debussy
  17. Children's Corner: X. The Little Shepherd (Tres modere) - C. Debussy
  18. Children's Corner: VI. Golliwogg's Cakewalk (Allegro giusto) - C. Debussy

Disc: 3

  1. 12 Etudes: I. Pour les cinq doigts (d'apres Monsieur Czerny) (Sagement) - C. Debussy
  2. 12 Etudes: II. Pour les tierces (Moderato, ma non troppo) - C. Debussy
  3. 12 Etudes: III. Pour les quartes (Andantino com moto) - C. Debussy
  4. 12 Etudes: IV. Pour les sixtes (Lento) - C. Debussy
  5. 12 Etudes: V. Pour les octaves (Joyeaux et emporte, librement rythme) - C. Debussy
  6. 12 Etudes: VI. Pour les huit doigts (Vivamente, molto leggiero e legato) - C. Debussy
  7. 12 Etudes: VII. Pour les degrés chromatiques (Scherzando, animato assai) - C. Debussy
  8. 12 Etudes: VIII. Pour les agréments (Lento, rubato e leggiero) - C. Debussy
  9. 12 Etudes: IX. Pour les notes répétées (Scherzando) - C. Debussy
  10. 12 Etudes: X. Pour les sonorités opposées (Modere, sans lenteur) - C. Debussy
  11. 12 Etudes: XI. Pour les arpèges composés (Dolce e lusingando) - C. Debussy
  12. 12 Etudes: XI. Pour les accords (Dedide, rythme, sans lourdeur) - C. Debussy
  13. Masques (Tres vif et fantasque) - C. Debussy
  14. D'un cahier d'esquisses (Tres lent-sans rigueur) - C. Debussy
  15. L'Isle joyeuse (Quasi una cadenza - Tempo : Modere et tres souple) - C. Debussy
  16. La plus que lente (Lent - Molto rubato con morbidezza) - C. Debussy
  17. Le petit negre (Cakewalk. Allegro giusto) - C. Debussy
  18. Berceuse heroique (Modere - sans lenteur) - C. Debussy
  19. Hommage à Haydn (Mouvement de Valse lente) - C. Debussy

Disc: 4

  1. Suite Bergamasque: I. Prélude (Moderato - tempo rubato) - C. Debussy
  2. Suite Bergamasque: II. Meneut (Andantino) - C. Debussy
  3. Suite Bergamasque: III. Clair de lune (Andante tres expressif) - C. Debussy
  4. Suite Bergamasque: IV. Passepied (Allegretto ma non troppo) - C. Debussy
  5. Danse bohémienne (Allegro) - C. Debussy
  6. Rêverie (Andantino sans lenteur) - C. Debussy
  7. Mazurka (Scherzando - assez anime) - C. Debussy
  8. Valse romantique (Tempo di valse - Allegro moderato) - C. Debussy
  9. Deux Arabesques: I. Andantino con moto - C. Debussy
  10. Deux Arabesques: II. Allegretto scherzando - C. Debussy
  11. Nocturne en re bemol majeur - in D flat - Des-dur - C. Debussy
  12. Danse (Tarentelle styrienne) (Allegretto) - C. Debussy
  13. Ballade (Andantino con moto) - C. Debussy
  14. Fantaisie For Piano And Orchestra: I. Andante - Allegro - C. Debussy
  15. Fantaisie For Piano And Orchestra: II. Lento e molto espressivo- - C. Debussy
  16. Fantaisie For Piano And Orchestra: III. Allegro molto - C. Debussy

Product Details

  • Performer: Walter Gieseking
  • Composer: Claude Debussy
  • Audio CD (January 21, 1997)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000002S6Z
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,182 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 15, 2003
Format: Audio CD
In rating this collection a mere four stars, I do so not against all of the other Debussy piano offerings out there (alongside which it would rate a hard-and-fast five stars), but rather against Gieseking's own pre-war standard. Because, deservedly respected as these recordings are, in the words of Yoda to Obi-wan Kenobi, "there is another," and here it sits on this very website in an unassuming little two-disc set from the wonderful Video Arts International label. It is the dazzling, important compilation modestly titled WALTER GIESEKING PLAYS DEBUSSY, and reissues recordings made from 1927 to 1939 (the vast majority are from the late 1930s). In trying to avoid the overstatement which we all are tempted to attach to greatness, I will stop at saying that these are the recordings upon which Gieseking's fame and the public's worldwide love of Debussy's piano works were largely based during the early twentieth century.
As for those who persist in finding Gieseking's interpretations "unromantic" or otherwise "Germanic" in their exposition, I would hasten to quash their criticism utterly on all grounds other than, of course, the final arbiter of personal taste. If certain listeners unfamiliar with the true Romantic Piano Tradition as exemplified on record by the likes of Hofmann, Schnabel, Paderewski, Godowsky, et al., and hence adopted by such devoted musicians as Gieseking, prefer their Debussy presented in formless, meter-less, pedal-heavy miasmatic tides of indistinct sounds, washing over them like a Turner seascape but leaving them knowing nothing about the pieces nor perceiving their true beauties as miniature art works, then by all means, latch on to some nameless modern practitioner painting his murky pictures on a five-dollar "Debussy For A Sunday Afternoon" compilation, and draw your bath.
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The watery allusions to Debussy music seem to have been taken far too literally by many pianists as well as piano music fans. Attempting to describe something inexpressible in concrete terms is inherently flawed, and to take an irrational "impression" and attempt to distill it down even further, results in loss of clarity. Though the music may be "softer," and less "rigid" and thus more flexible to subjective interpretation, it is distanced from the artist's first message; the music itself. Debussy's music speaks clearly, without the need for "Gaullic" over-sentimentalizing. I've never understood the arguments about Gieseking's Germanic interpretation, as if genetics and not culture were the main influence in one's artistic make-up. Though other great pianists who have recorded these pieces caress wonderful tones from their instruments, compared to Gieseking's mastery and control of colors and his tonal variety they sound overly warm, mushy even. Listening to Gieseking playing Debussy is to be at the water's edge, sight unimpeded by any mist rising from the surface of the pond, gazing upon a reflection of the moon that is not hazed in by clouds. After him, listening to other recordings is like peering at the same lunar image from the bottom of the pond. Save me Gieseking, I'm drowning...
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Yes, I have heard oh, 90% of all recordings of Debussy's solo piano music .
As well, I have Debussy's recordings from 1913, one on Pierain and the other is on Dal Segno. The Dal Segno has a few extra pieces that are not on the Pierain release.

Giesekings profound understanding of the nuances and details of these beautiful piano pieces is like few others I've heard.
The only drawback is the recording quality, which is a problem. Even at low volume the distracting poor quality is a serious issue.
Upon further consideration, though Gieseking does some interesting things, overall I have to give my preference to Pascal ROGE on London. Also Jean Bernard Pommier does a fine performance as well.
I prefer these 2 pianists more than the following: Michelangeli (a long time fav) , Zimerman, Thibaudet, Thoillier. I have the Monique Hass on order.
I like Debussy with exquiste nuances. For that I go to Roge, Pommier. And few others. Look at all my reviews in Ravel for 2 other mentions. Tharaud and Bavouzet

I give Gieseking a 3 Star.
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By A Customer on April 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I must confess Walter Gieseking's much acclaimed recordings of these masterpieces of French piano literature did not appeal to me as much as they did to other reviewers. He admittedly draws wonderful colors and shadings from the piano, yet this does not change the fact that he plays Debussy in a German translation, if I may be forgiven the metaphor. The power of his playing, those strong accents, those sharp attacks and contrasts create in most places corners, edges, protruding cliffs and deep valleys that belong more to Beethoven than Debussy and render to the music a solidity which mars the impressionist poetry of fluid lines, reduced dynamics and cloud-like harmonies. This is more discomforting in the works of his impressionist period, like Images, Estampes and Preludes (esp. volume 1) and less important in the Etudes. The former, played by Arrau or Moravec, takes you to another world, a dream world; when listening to Gieseking, nothing of the sort happens: it is as if you are listening to abstract music, admittedly with wonderful playing - which fits the etudes, but gives to the other works a more abstract quality than Debussy might have liked. Take the "Canope" prelude from the second book, for example. It is about an ancient Egyptian urn two of which Debussy owned. At the start a nostalgic theme is heard, as if we are contemplating the urn; it is repeated, but one begins to feel something ominous hangs in the air; like in a bad dream. Hardly having felt, the thing happens; something very ancient comes to life! Only to disappear again and leave the listener astonished and unsure. All is the same again - the theme is reheard, and the piece "ends" without an end.Read more ›
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