À Claude, Benedetto Boccuzzi’s extraordinary debut album

Claude Debussy wrote Images as a set of six compositions for solo piano in two series, each consisting of three pieces. The second series includes three gorgeous miniatures: Cloches à travers les feuilles, Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut, and Poissons d’or. Each of the three pieces is inspired by things that infuse these delicate compositions with the power to evoke free-associations: bells in a church, moonlight bathing an ancient temple, or fish swimming in a pond. In this respect Debussy’s Images are impressionistic works – much as Debussy loathed the term – which invite the listener to let the imagination roam.

And that freeing up of the mind is exactly what À Claude, Benedetto Boccuzzi’s 2021 extraordinary debut album (DCTT111) for the Italian label Digressione Music brings about.

Featuring a richly executed palette of works by Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, George Crumb, Toru Takemitsu, Diana Rotaru, and Boccuzzi himself, and now available for worldwide distribution by Milano Dischi/Naxos, À Claude was born as a result of Italian pianist Claudio Boccuzzi’s love of Claude Debussy’s music. The program encompasses both music by Debussy himself and by several of the French master’s spiritual heirs.

Makrokosmos is a collection of short pieces for piano by the American composer George Crumb, from which Boccuzzi chooses six that musically describe the various temperaments of Taurus, Leo, Gemini (twice), and Pisces (twice). The work calls for all sort of techniques from the resourceful Bocuzzi, ranging from plucking of the strings to slamming down massive tone clusters to eliciting overtones from depressed keys not played, to humorously and evocatively quoting Chopin now and then.

Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (“Twenty visions of the infant Jesus”) is a suite of 20 pieces for solo piano by the French composer Olivier Messiaen. Deeply spiritual, as is the case with most of this composer’s output, the three miniatures chosen and lovingly played by Boccuzzi range from the delicate Regard de l’étoile and Regard de la Vierge to the surprisingly blunt Regard des hauteurs.

The felicitous pairing of Debussy to Crumb to Messiaen – musical and aesthetic comrades –  continues in this varied album with the addition of two names, one well known – Toru Takemitsu – one lesser known – the Rumanian Diana Rotaru, whose 2007 Debumessquisse salutes Debussy with imaginative wit. Takemitsu in turn states his own musical idea with Les yeux clos II (“With closed eyes”) and then salutes Messiaen with Rain tree sketch to both of which Boccuzzi brings non-pareil pianistic resourcefulness. Most impressively the protean Benedetto Boccuzzi brings his own exquisite arrangement of two Debussy Dances for harp and orchestra to joyously end this memorable debut album.

Where to find the CD?

on www.digressionemusic.it

on www.benedettoboccuzzi.com/links

and on most all digital platforms