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The Unbroken Line

Claude Debussy, Jean-Philippe Rameau




Audiophile Audition
“[LaDeur's] tone is magnificently even.”
American Record Guide [January/February 2018]
“it is clear that LaDeur has a deep understanding of Debussy’s piano idiom. He has an excellent technique, and his playing is characterized by linearity, continuity, sensitivity, careful balancing, and attention to color. His interpretations often project a sense of refinement and Olympian calm that seems characteristically French and is very appropriate in this repertoire. His pacing is unhurried, consistently broader than that of Walter Gieseking in his classic EMI recordings, but even where timings are similar LaDeur’s performances are likely to lean toward equanimity rather than aggression by comparison with others. In the Images, LaDeur’s timings are not much different from those of Thibaudet, but he avoids Thibaudet’s percussiveness and more flamboyant brilliance. LaDeur’s reading of “Reflets dans l’eau” is relaxed and rhapsodic. In “Hommage á Rameau” he adopts a relatively deliberate pace and generates a sense of serenity and timelessness. His treatment of “Mouvement” is expansive and majestic... [“Brouillards”] is appropriately misty and shimmers with muted colors. The dark-colored chords in the bass toward the end of the piece register with ominous effect. By comparison with those of Gieseking, Arrau and Michelangeli, LaDeur’s reading of “Feuilles mortes” is notable for its steadiness and especially palpable harmonic color... LaDeur demonstrates that he is capable of dazzling bravura as well as impressive tonal weight.... LaDeur’s performances are recorded in a spacious acoustic, with open and detailed sound... LaDeur’s interpretations are distinctive and persuasive and are recommended.”
Daniel Morrison, Fanfare [January/February 2018]
“[the piano is] an evenly regulated and responsive instrument... LaDeur’s [displays] scrupulous fingerwork in the first book of Images... LeDeur finds just enough alluring dynamic gradations and curvaceously shaped flourishes in ‘La puerta del vino’ to qualify for sexy... the watery evocations of ‘Ondine’ benefit from lovely pedalling on the pianist’s part. LaDeur brings a welcome ragtime sensibility to the dotted rhythms in ‘Hommage à S Pickwick’ and makes sense of the sudden, wispy mood swings in ‘Canope’ ... LaDeur plunges fearlessly into ‘Feux d’artifice’, never letting the energy hit ground... The pianist’s opening transcription of ‘Tristes apprêts’ from Castor et Pollux is a masterpiece of understatement, simplicity and ‘old school’ chord-playing where every note sings out with meaning.”
Jed Distler, Gramophone [January 2018]
“As one who approaches new albums of standard repertoire somewhat hesitantly, I found myself enchanted with these works by Debussy and Rameau. LaDeur's thoughtful liner notes make a compelling case for this composer pairing and specific repertoire choices. The simple, yet exquisitely beautiful, 'Tristes apprêts,' an aria from Rameau's Castor et Pollux transcribed by the pianist, sets a spellbinding sound world from the very first track. Debussy's first set of Images and Preludes, Book 2, are familiar to all, but are given new life by this sensitive pianist. Throughout, LaDeur displays a transcendent technique, delivering fresh interpretations with striking clarity yet mellifluous tone. Here is a pianist who handles the virtuosic flair of 'Feux d'artifice,' the shimmering beauty of "Ondine," and the liquid tapestry of 'Reflets dans l'eau' with such natural ease and finesse that his playing is simply an extension of the instrument itself.”
Nicholas Phillips, Clavier Companion [December 2017]
"This inviting new release by Berkeley pianist Jeffrey LaDeur is at once a handsome and intimate performance of Debussy, and also a music-historical proposition — namely, that some of the music included here serves as a direct homage to Debussy’s Baroque forebear Jean-Philippe Rameau. It’s a captivating notion, and juxtaposing the relevant works does make a nice case for it... a languorous, sensually apt rendition of [Debussy's] “Images,” Book I, and a brighter and more detailed interpretation of the Preludes, Book II. Both sets benefit from the pianist’s delicate keyboard touch and rich expressivity."
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle [November 2017]
“the delightful arrangement of “Tristes apprets” from Castor et Pollux do indeed remind one of “Hommage a Rameau” from Book I of the Images, and the marvelous—and brilliantly played—“Gavotte et six doubles” from Nouvelles suites de pieces du clavecin ties into the eleventh piece of Book II of the Preludes... [LaDeur’s] Debussy, especially the Preludes, is of a whole cloth, richly delineated, dark, mellifluous, and immersed in clarity. These are performances by a pianist who has given a lot of thought to his performances, and his communicative abilities are top notch. Couple that with MSR’s unique way with recording a piano, and you get a release of profound worth, something a little different, yet seeming to be simply the way that things should sound.
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [November 2017]
“the juxtapositions [LaDeur] offers here [between Rameau and Debussy] are fascinating and beautiful, as is his playing.”
Rick Anderson, CD HotList for Libraries [October 2017]
“[LaDeur] certainly has a way with Debussy, performing Images—Book I and Préludes—Book II with limpid, elegant technique, finely controlled and nuanced hand balance, a firm grasp of rhythm (and when to let it fluctuate), and an overall assurance that is highly impressive... LaDeur here presents an elegant demonstration of the rightness of [his teacher] Sherter’s discovery and analysis of links between Rameau and Debussy”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [October 2017]
“This is a beautiful idea... LaDeur’s Rameau is spellbinding. In fact, hearing his own transcription of “Tristes apprêts” from Castor et Pollux, one aches to hear more... The traceries of [Debussy] in LaDeur’s hands are magical... The performance of the second book of Préludes is magnificent... The performance of the Debussy is exemplary: clean, with a superb tone, arguably the finest performance on the disc. The actual Rameau Gavotte enters with a purity that verges on the miraculous; LaDeur’s pearly touch brings out the lines clearly, his ornamentation perfectly judged throughout... The appeal of this disc lies in the correspondences it lays bare so effectively. But there is also fabulous playing here, in a superb recording. The Debussy pieces offer huge competition (despite the fact the second book of Préludes is the less recorded of the two), yet not only does LaDeur come through unscathed, he offers a new way of experiencing and appreciating this music. And that, my friends, is like gold dust. Required listening.”
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [November/December 2017]
“glowing sound… assured virtuosity”
“dazzling pianism”
To hear an interesting WNIU RADIO FEATURE on this CD, click HERE.


I first learned of Claude Debussy’s profound admiration for Jean-Philippe Rameau through Annie Marchand Sherter. In her essay on the origins of (…Les Tierces alternées…) in Rameau’s Gavotte and Six Doubles in A minor, she argues that Debussy composed his penultimate prelude as a seventh double of Rameau’s Gavotte, based in turn on 16th century French chansons.

Hearing Debussy’s “Les tierces” as a link in the unbroken line of French music upends the traditional view of the prelude as an enigmatic trifle. And while it may be clear that the motoric figuration derives from the fourth double of Rameau’s Gavotte, requiring the performer to play repeated notes, including thirds, by quickly “replacing” one hand with the other—hence alternating thirds, who notices the melody, hidden amidst the figuration, that quotes Rameau’s theme note for note? This ciphered tribute is characteristic of Debussy’s fascination with the esoteric and attests to the composer’s acute awareness of his musical heritage.

It was Sherter, my teacher, who opened my ears to this in her unpublished essay which informs my interpretation. She, in turn, was a student of Vlado Perlemuter and Alfred Cortot, and through her I hear another unbroken line of French musical artists parallel to that of Debussy and his chosen ancestors. This album is inextricably linked to my teacher as much as Debussy is to Rameau, Castor to Pollux. Rather than struggle against the gravitational pull of one’s masters, it is possible to embrace lineage and possibility, what Debussy found in Rameau, “…a tradition filled with far-reaching, almost unparalleled discoveries.”

Jeffrey LaDeur enjoys a busy career as soloist, chamber musician and educator. LaDeur’s spontaneity, tone color and sense of architecture have distinguished him as an artist of international caliber. Engagements at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Shanghai Conservatory, Eastman Theater, Banff Centre and other prestigious venues were followed by an invitation from the Naumburg Foundation to make his Carnegie Hall debut. LaDeur is pianist and founding member of the acclaimed Delphi Trio, and Founder and Artistic Director of New Piano Collective, an artistic alliance of internationally renowned pianists. As soloist with orchestra, LaDeur maintains a repertoire of more than 40 concertos. Recent performances include appearances with the Oakland Symphony, San Jose Chamber Orchestra Denver Philharmonic, Merced Symphony and members of the South Dakota Symphony. LaDeur is frequently heard in recital at venues such as PianoForte Chicago, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Dakota Sky International Piano Festival. He returns to Weill Hall to culminate his survey of Debussy’s solo piano music and its influences and inspirations on the anniversary of the composer’s death in March 2018. As pianist of the Delphi Trio, LaDeur has performed at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, Smithsonian Museum and Orlando Festival in the Netherlands. Dedicatees of William Bolcom’s First Piano Trio, Delphi presented its world premiere in 2016. In addition to his activities with the Trio, LaDeur has collaborated with notable chamber musicians, including Robert Mann, Geoff Nuttall and Ian Swensen. After an auspicious debut with the Eastman Philharmonia in Franck’s Variations Symphoniques during his first semester of study at the Eastman School of Music, LaDeur completed his Bachelor’s degree in piano performance, studying with Douglas Humpherys. LaDeur earned a Master’s Degree in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory, studying with Yoshikazu Nagai and completed additional studies with Robert McDonald. LaDeur received his formative musical training from Mark Edwards and Annie Marchand Sherter, herself a student of Vlado Perlemuter and Alfred Cortot.

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Tristes Apprêts (arr. J. LaDeur)

CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
I. Reflets dans l’eau
II. Hommage à Rameau
III. Mouvement

I. Brouillards (Modéré)
II. Feuilles mortes (Lent et mélancolique)
III. La Puerta del Vino (Mouvement de Habanera)
IV. “Les Fées sont d’exquises danseuses” (Rapide et léger)
V. Bruyères (Calme – doucement expressif)
VI. General Lavine – eccentric (Dans le style et le Mouvement d’un Cake-Walk)
VII. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune (Lent)
VIII. Ondine (Scherzando)
IX. Hommage à S. Pickwick, Esq. P. P. M. P. C. (Grave)
X. Canope (Très calme et doucement triste)
XI. Les tierces alternées (Modérément animé)
XII. Feux d’Artifice (Modérément animé)

Gavotte et six doubles

MSR Classics
Songs and Piano Music by Beethoven and Schumann KINDRA SCHARICH