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This handsomely produced single-disc box set of Debussy piano music is part of Harmonia Mundi’s series marking the centenary of Debussy’s death in 1918. Previous instalments of the piano music (not to be confused with this same label’s separate 5-CD reissue of Alain Planès’ complete survey) have comprised personal selections recorded by members of the label’s roster of artists – Melnikov, Muraro, Perianes – and so it is here with Lugansky.

Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov are the composers one most readily associates with Lugansky. While his range is rather wider than that, the present disc is his first to be devoted to Debussy, or French music If these are his favourite Debussy works, it accounts for the compelling fluency of his accounts, yielding little in atmosphere or touch to more familiar interpreters of ‘Claude de France’ (Thibaudet, for example, a personal favourite). The sequence on disc makes for a varied programme, mixing the familiar with the less so – nowhere more than in the Suite b ergamasque, and its ubiquitous third movement, ‘Clair de lune’. It is strongly played, bordered by lovely accounts of Deux Arabesques and La plus que lente (‘The most slow’), the whole framed by L’isle joyeuse and Images Book II.

Curiously, ‘Cloches à travers les feuilles’, ‘Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut’ and‘Poissons d’or’ are listed on the back of the box as being ‘From Images II’, when the whole set is present; it is ‘Jardins sous la pluie’, rather, that is excerpted from Estampes. The listing is correct in the booklet itself and, given the terrifically clear sound, this is the album’s only hitch.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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