The 24 Préludes represent what must be the best known cycle of pieces by the Impressionist composer Claude Debussy. The compositions are alive with magic, poetry and depiction in sound. No pianist can approach the demands of their composer more closely than Friedrich Gulda; Debussy's instruction "to breathe with the pedal" is something that Gulda, alone among pianists, has mastered to perfection. The pianist's instinctive sense of touch draws from the works of Debussy just what the composer wished: loud sections are thundered forth, while pianissimo passages sound so intimate and close at hand that one's own heartbeat sounds like the summons of an imperious drum. To do justice to this perfection, the recording is also released in full-spectrum sound quality on audiophile vinyl.
Gulda, rebel among pianists, was a great admirer of Debussy's music. As early as the 1940s, he proved with his recordings of "L'isle joyeuse" and "Reflets dans l'eau" his infallible sense of the composer’s music. The pianist immersed himself in the depths of Debussy's harmonies, taking his extended harmonic structure (chords to the 9th, 11th and 13th) as the basis of improvisation in jazz. And there is an audible affinity in the harmonies of Gulda’s own composition "The Air from other Planets". This intensive engagement with jazz on the one hand and with the works of Claude Debussy on the other fertilized Gulda's creative powers to an equal extent, enriching his interpretation of the Préludes with regard to rhythm in particular and giving benchmark status to this recording.
The preferred microphone placement close to the strings at the MPS studio in Villingen in 1969 only goes to reinforce Debussy's message. Under the guiding hands of Willi Fruth and Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer the sought-for intimacy is amplified; ideally, some of these pieces should only be played for a tête-à-tête. These intimate recordings have now been restored in pure analogue mode and carefully enhanced by Mastering Engineer Christoph Stickel, specialist in audiophile editing and restoration, so as to retain the unique sound of the recording in its close relationship with
Gulda's interpretation. The recording has been newly laid down on audiophile 180 gramm virgin vinyls and on CD. An absolute work of reference!