Claude Debussy: Préludes, Livre I, L. 117 – Estampes, L. 100 – Images pour orchestre, L. 122: n° III. “Rondes de printemps” (trans. G. Gasparian) ^
^ World Premiere Recording
Jean-Paul Gasparian (piano)
Recording: Salon de musique, Hôtel de la Fondation Singer-Polignac, Paris, France (September 12‑15, 2022) – 68’05
naïve V 7958 – Booklet in French and English
“I wanted something evocative and immaterial that would allow me to navigate my way through the range of moods, colors and timbres that make up the Debussyan universe. It was often said of Debussy that he caressed the piano when he played. The piano, here is a tool that lets your imagination wander, a machine that creates perceptions. Like a sort of stationary journey.”
Yes, let the imagination wander, but with reasonability and artistic license...yes, pianiste extraordinaire Jean‑Paul Gasparian has invested heavily in the blurry details of Claude Debussy’s music, yet the musical parlance is exceedingly erudite. A Steinway Artist since 2017, M. Gasparian’s CV reads like a neatly trimmed novel of impeccability and grandeur...after all, his grounding was spawned from the fact that both parents are musicians.
M. Gasparian’s overall brio is thoughtfully vivacious, sensitive yet forward-thinking. Sensitive to overarching, the pianist gives a firm reading inside Book I of Préludes with logic and emotional resolve. While Debussy never titled his pieces in this œuvre, he, instead, chose to keenly pocket them at the end, thereby allowing the musician an independent “free form” of sorts. The outcomes are incisive and poignant. The ambiguity pervades each pensée with free spirit. Jean‑Paul Gasparian never shies away from daring to be assertive, giving each composition a bit of a brisk outlook, such as in the “Les Collines d’Anacapri” with its amiable vivacity, the tempestuousness of “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest” or the legendary Breton grandeur and build of “La Cathédrale engloutie”: all senses are stretched to the limit, magnified to the hilt without being spirited away by irrelevance.
Inside Estampes reveals M. Gasparian’s ability to circle around a single thought with purity...clear and uncluttered. Never does the pianist nudge the subject line into an awkward corner nor bear any annoyance. One example, in particular is inside the “La Soirée dans Grenade” [1’40] where many artists tend to overdraw in the crest, yet Jean‑Paul Gasparian tempers the lift with keen politesse. This tripartite has utmost clarity, and is as vibrant as the rays of the sun.
What has to be the most interesting reveal is the World Premiere Recording of “Rondes de printemps”, the third movement from Images pour orchestre. It was Jean‑Paul Gasparian’s father, Gérard Gasparian, who transcribed this for piano back in 2009. While this reviewer has stronger affinity for the full orchestral version, this depiction garners greater intimacy and frequently brings out more hidden nuances that can be possibly muddied up inside the instrumental complexities of tutti orchestra. Jean‑Paul Gasparian’s interpretation is dignified and energetic.