"The crisis in the classical record market has resulted in an ever increasing number of major artists appearing not on the big labels which may have been their ‘home’ for 20 years or even more but on smaller, and in many cases more enterprising labels who welcome them of course with open arms. Two recent releases provide a telling case in point. Indeed one of them is triply notable. Pascal Rogé’s long awaited account of the complete Debussy Préludes comes as the inaugural release on the entirely new Onyx label [ONYX4004], and is everything his legion of admirers would expect (their expectations nourished, among other things, by his recording of Book I for Decca many years ago). Superbly played and beautifully recorded, this is an interpretation of masterly stature. Even in the most formidably virtuosic préludes, Rogé never shows off. There is nothing of the narcissistic exhibitionist in him. Indeed his exquisite and lavish tonal palette is so entirely derived from the demands of the music itself that one could easily overlook it."
Piano Magazine - May/June 2005
"Comes close to a definitive interpretation"
BBC CD Review - 9 July 2005
"A record that sets new standards in French music"
London Evening Standard - 8 June 2005
Records of the Year 2005
"Pascal Rogé’s latest reading of Debussy’s evocative Préludes is poetic, super-refined and a model of clear-textured considered playing."
"There are two ways to look at the incessant rerecording of the standard repertoire. In one view, it’s sound commercial practice. Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons," Bach’s "The Well-Tempered Clavier," Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 sell. Pair a big-name artist with a familiar title, and a certain market share, however small it might be in the classical CD world of diminishing returns, seems assured. The other, sunnier view is that no great work, no matter how familiar, is ever exhausted. Artists go on exploring, reinventing and reimagining the repertoire, in mutual discovery with an audience. If that sometimes fosters willfulness and quirkiness, a determination to leave a unique interpretative watermark, it can also offer a listener new possibilities and renewed pleasures. French specialist Pascal Rogé does just that in this lucid, pensive and subtly charged performance of Debussy’s 24 piano Preludes. Famously impressionistic and programmatic, with their musical scene-painting of such subjects as heather, fog, a "Sunken Cathedral" and "The Girl With the Flaxen Hair," these two books of short pieces invite a pianist to conjure as much color, light and subtle shading as possible from the keyboard. While Rogé can certainly evoke images of "Dead Leaves" or a dancer’s "Veils," he is equally interested in understatement, quietude, the still silence between the notes. Clarity is foremost, in distinctly drawn phrases, precise articulation and light pedaling. In "What the West Wind Saw," he captures the calm between the breezy gusts of notes. His "Fog" is not the haze of sound that many pianists concoct but a collation of tiny droplets. Even the comic cakewalk, "General Lavine," inclines toward a balanced, elegant character over burlesque. The downside is a certain coolness and lack of showy gestures. But with the deep chill of "Footsteps in the Snow," one of this album’s quietly stunning high points, Rogé demonstrates something more memorable. Here, in 3 1/2 minutes of spare music making, he creates an air of stasis, fatefulness, a snowfall’s silent power to register and then erase the walker’s presence."
San Francisco Chronicle - 9 November 2005
"In the fallout from the collapse of classical recording, two former executives lunched over their shrunken future. Paul Moseley, marketing man at Decca, met Chris Craker, a producer of some 400 records whose boutique label, Black Box, had gone belly-up in a corporate takeover. What about the artists? they asked one another. What about all those rising stars who had received massive promotions from major labels and were now, in mid-life, consigned to the scrapheap? Surely a name must count for something in the new economy.
For their new enterprise, named Onyx, Craker and Moseley recorded Viktoria Mullova (ex-Philips), Barbara Bonney (ex-DG) and the Borodin Quartet (ex-EMI) in music they had never tackled before. Mullova pitched into Vivaldi with a feral early-instrument band. Bonney sang Bernstein, the Borodins played a 60th anniversary recital. But the real catch was Pascal Rogé who, dumped by Decca, recorded the Debussy Preludes that had filled his mind since the age of eight. Rogé was the archetypal master of French pianism, heir to the Cortot panache, the subtlety of Casadesus. Style was paramount in his Preludes. A hair out of place, a soupcon of wrong flavouring, and the whole effect would be ruined. Each Prelude was a separate course, warm or cool, sombre or bien amusant.
Rogé played as he wished, relieved of major-sales expectations, intent upon the text and subtext of a set that is seldom played entire. The preludes, said Rogé, were written for the player: ‘I can’t conceive what the listener can enjoy, compared to the voluptuous delight of creating all those sounds, perfumes, colours … Sometimes I even fell guilty about experiencing so much pleasure in public. It’s almost indecent.’
This was, by any measure, a milestone recording on musical merity but it was also an indicator to whatever might lie ahead for the transmission of music in a post-recording age – a model for modest ventures by important artists, a thin but unbreakable chain of continuity. Before the record was out, Craker was appointed to a top job at Sony-BMG and Onyx acquired global distribution. It marked a glimmer, more likely a chimera, of new beginnings."
Norman Lebrecht’s Definitive 100 CD’s - No 98
No User Reviews Found.