Tuesday, 27 May 2014 10:49

RECORD REVIEW: Beau Soir - Debussy - Pure Audio Blu-ray

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The American pianist Michael Lewin has recorded a Pure Audio Blu-ray with music by Debussy on the label Sono Luminus. I've listened to it.

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Michael Lewin has many recordings behind him, and this is the third recording on Sono Luminus, after he has made several recordings also on Naxos and Centaur Records. But despite the fact that he has always been particularly concerned about Debussy's music, it neither has been at his concert repertoire, or on the recordings before. On the other hand, there is already work in progress with another Debussy recording on Sono Luminus, where several independent piano pieces are supplemented with Preludes Book 1, which is considered one of the best Debussy wrote for solo piano.

Debussy is considered one of the foremost impressjonists beside with Ravel, although Debussy himself dismissed the concept of Impressionist music as childish.

At Beau Soir we find eight pieces for solo piano, as well as 12 Preludes in Preludes Book II. That is, the very first piece - Beau Soir - was originally written for piano and vocals, but transcribed for solo piano by Koji Attwood. Michael Lewin's recording on this disc is the first performance of Atwood's transcription. It is not unusual to performe a transcribed versions of Beau Soir. An otherwise common variant is for violin and piano, and a brilliant interpretation of this variant is found on another Hi-res release, Trace of Impressions by Anders Kjellberg Nilsson and Sveinung Bjelland on SACD from 2L.

Michael Lewin`s interpretations are very expressive, while slightly more careful than some other interpretations. This particularly applies to Preludes Book II, where my previoius reference recording with French pianist Cécile Ousse emerging as perhaps more temperamental. Personally I find that Lewin's occasionally somewhat more subtle interpretations suits just as well on this music. It is also otherwise outstanding played by Lewin.

The Pure Audio Blu-ray production from Sono Luminus is first class and has great similarities with the corresponding productions from 2L, especially after 2L switched from standard Blu-ray video package to the same SACD-style Jewel case that Sono Lumius use. Sono Luminus also as standard join a regular CD with the same material, where 2L sometimes - but not always - supply a hybrid SACD. It is also mandatory with optional download file via mShuttle. Excellent!

The Blu-ray disc has tracks in 2.0 LPCM 24bits/192kHz, 5.1 DSP HD MA 24bits/192kHz and 7.1 DTS HD MA 24bits/96kHz. The choice of these tracks follow the usual color coding for Pure Audio Blu-ray, so it is also in this release facilitated screenless playback.


The sound on this release is outstanding. There is a very clear perspective and dynamics are good. Sono Luminus has used 5.1 track to give a little more sense of space, and clarifying perspective. It's a pretty close experience of the piano, but without exceeding the thin front line that some do not like being exceeded. Sono Luminus have otherwise quite variable approach to surround recordings, where the individual releases can have a rather radical approach. But not here.


Beau Soir is a very good album that allows you to explore parts of Debussy's works for solo piano, with an outstanding interpretation of Michael Lewin, and a very great sound in both stereo and multi channel. Highly recommended.





1 Beau Soir 1877-1880 
2 L'Isle Joyeuse 1904 
3 The Little Shepherd 1906-1908 
4 Danse (Tarantelle Styria) 1890 
5th elegies 1915 
6 Pour les octaves 1915 
7 Valse romantique 1890 
8 La plus que laid in 1910

Préludes Book II 1912-1913

9 I. Brouilards
10 II. Feuilles mortes
11 III. La Puerta del Vino 
12 IV. "Les Fées sont d'Exquis Danseuses" 
13 V. BUYER 
14 VI. General Lavine - eccentric 
15 VII. La terrasse des audiences to clair de lune 
16 VIII. Ondine 
17 IX. Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq.
18th X. canopes 
19 XI. Read Tierce alternées 
20 XII. Feux d'Artifice


Read more at Sono Luminus.

Read 3752 times Last modified on Saturday, 19 September 2020 16:36
Karl Erik Sylthe

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