Colin Anderson
October 2022
Following his revelatory Rachmaninov, Steven Osborne adds another Debussy collection (the third) to his distinguished Hyperion discography. It’s Early and Late Piano Pieces, from a bohemian souvenir to a thank-you from Debussy to his coal-merchant (Monsieur Tronquin) via celebrated moonlight, a look-back to Haydn, pieces romantic and Slavonic, with each of these and the other miniatures (twenty-two in total) proving very enjoyable to create a recital-length release of variety that enjoys excellent sound and presentation (Roger Nichols’s booklet note) and finds in Osborne not only a sympathetic and insightful interpreter but one who looks beyond the impressionistic tag that Debussy was less than chuffed with. So, while there is plenty of tenderness, painterly descriptions, and intimacies, fine-line sketches, luminosity, enchantment, there can also be louder and harder touches, or less sentiment, than expected, all in the name of extending the music’s possibilities, and a listener’s rethink, Osborne being very persuasive with his decision.