Sandro Russo's new album on the Steinway & Sons label pays a heartfelt tribute to Claude Debussy on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Russo aimed to create a portrait of the revered composer that not only highlighted his many masterpieces, but which also recreated his world through the composers that he influenced.
Debussy’s marked influence on 20th century music can be seen in distinct pieces featured on the album, such as Florent Schmitt’s Tristesse de Pan (from “Mirages”), which calls to mind distinctly Debussian atmospheres and lush sonorities. The record also features the rarely performed solo piano transcription of the revered Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. In a later, overt reference to Debussy’s beloved faune, Paul Dukas’s La plainte, au loin, du faune… uses extensive chromaticism to invoke trademark melancholic moods. Additionally, Debussy’s fondness for Spanish music is reflected on the album through de Falla’s Homenaje, a piece which was first composed for guitar and harbors an unmistakable, swaying habanera rhythm. In fact, Debussy’s renderings of the sounds of Spain were so masterful that de Falla himself cited Debussy as the creator of the best Spanish music, a fact made more remarkable by the knowledge that Debussy barely set foot in the country.
Rounding off the record are three transcriptions that take us into the composer’s most well-known, lyrical and intimate genre: the art song. Solo piano arrangements by Daniel Ericourt and Koji Attwood enhance Debussy’s lavish textures, making these well-loved songs worthy of renown in their own right.
“Sandro Russo is without question one of the most brilliant pianists of his generation. Apart from his dazzling technique, he performs with a profound sense of poetry and a distinctive style.”
“…an artist to his finger tips… musical, intuitive, and a master of the instrument.”
“Russo plays both books of Images with all of the skill and sensitivity expected of a master pianist.”
American Record Guide
“Russo casts diverse light and shade on the intricate piano-writing throughout Schmitt’s tribute piece, while idiomatically pepping up the little Dukas tribute with just the right dose of sultry spice. The variety of colour that he draws out of Leonard Borwick’s Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune transcription impresses even more when you realise how discreetly Russo pedals.”
“Sandro Russo is a wonderful Debussy interpreter. His splendid technique includes masterful manipulation of tonal color within tautly constructed phrases. His pacing is deliberate, as opposed to histrionically dreamy.”
Images Et Mirages - Hommage A Debussy / Sandro Russo • STNS 30105
Release Date: 10/19/2018
Recorded May 27 and June 12, 2018 at Patrych Sound Studio, New York City.
Producer/Engineer Joseph Patrych
Mixing and Mastering: Joseph Patrych
Piano Technician: Kenneth Farnum, Jr.
Piano: Steinway Model D #147 (Hamburg)
Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Production Assistant: Renée Oakford
About the Artist
Sandro Russo’s playing has often been referred to as a throwback to the grand tradition of elegant pianism and beautiful sound. Composer Lowell Liebermann wrote of him, “Sandro Russo is a musician's musician and a pianist's pianist. There is no technical challenge too great for him, but it is his musicianship that ultimately makes the greatest impression. His interpretations reveal a unique and profound artist at work.”
Born in San Giovanni Gemini – Italy, Mr. Russo displayed exceptional musical talent from an early age. He later entered the V. Bellini Conservatory, from which institution he graduated summa cum laude. He also earned the Pianoforte Performing Diploma from the Royal College of Music in London with honors. Soon after Mr. Russo moved to the United States in 2000, he won the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition, and has ever since performed in such prestigious concert halls as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Weill and Zankel halls at Carnegie Hall, Kilbourn Hall (Eastman Theatre), Salle Cortot in Paris, Teatro Politeama in Palermo, the Konzerthaus Berlin and Stoller Hall in Manchester (UK).
His recitals include performances for The Rachmaninoff Society, the Dame Myra Hess series in Chicago, the American Liszt Society, the Houston International Piano Festival, the Husum Festival of Piano Rarities in Germany, the Chetham's International Piano Festival in Manchester (UK) and the Fernando Laires series at the Eastman Theatre. Mr. Russo has appeared as a soloist with the Slovak Philharmonic in Bratislava, the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida and the Brussels Chamber Orchestra, among others. His performances have aired on all the major radio stations in the US and abroad. His other recordings include the albums Scarlatti Recreated, Russian Gems and Rachmaninov – Solo Piano Works, released on the Steinway & Sons label in March 2017. The latter was chosen “Disc of the Month” by Italy’s The Classic Voice magazine.
Sandro Russo is a Steinway Artist.
About Steinway & Sons label
The STEINWAY & SONS music label produces exceptional albums of solo piano music across all genres. The label — a division of STEINWAY & SONS, maker of the world’s finest pianos — is a perfect vessel for producing the finest quality recordings by some of the most talented pianists in the world.