Debussy: Preludes Books 1 & 2: Ivan Ilić, piano. Paraty 3576071081059 DDD @2008. TT 75:40. Available from Cd Baby, $18.00

According to American pianist Ivan Ilić‘s biography posted on his website, he “started music studies at age 6 and gave his recital debut at 11.” After taking degrees in music and mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley he moved “to Paris on a fellowship from the (same) University.” Soon after, Ivan was admitted to the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris where he was awarded a Premier Prix in piano performance. He is a disciple of the legendary François-René Duchâble. The City of Paris sponsored this debut all-Debussy recording.

This very fine modern recording will make a useful supplement to two classic recordings of Debussy’s Complete Works for Piano: Walter Giesking’s early 1950s mono set on EMI or the limited CD reissue of the Kapp Records 1960s stereo vinyl discs by Daniel Ericourt on Ivory Classics. It is certainly a fine recital for home-listening or for soothing the spirit for longer trips in an automobile. Most existing recordings of the complete Preludes use the published order. Ilić has thought outside of the box and rearranged the sequence of selections to serve as a menu for a concert. The total timing of this CD is marginally longer than a number of current recordings but there is no sense of Ilić dragging the momentum of any of the pieces.

Ilić’s Steinway piano was recorded in La Salle Cortot in Paris during April 2006. Artistic Director and Recording Engineer Judith Carpentier-Dupont captured the sound of the keyboard within space superbly. Reverberation gives feeling of the hall without any interference with the vivid clarity of Ilić’s playing. The dynamic range is very wide with no distortion of either its low or high notes. Ilić’s palette of tonal colors is kaleidoscopic and his intonation is precise.