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  • Muzaffar Shah

Julian Jacobson at Grand Passion Pianos: A Debussy Evening to Remember

Updated: Mar 17

On a crisp February evening, the acclaimed pianist Julian Jacobson took to the stage at Grand Passion Pianos, captivating an eager audience with his delightful interpretation of Claude Debussy's Préludes Book 1.


A close up photograph of professor Julian Jacobson taken at the grand piano showroom of Grand Passion Pianos showing Jacobson standing in front of an 1896 Pleyel grand piano
Professor Jacobson prior to the recital

Known for his deep musical insight and technical prowess, Jacobson embarked on an impeccable rendition of Claude Debussy's Préludes Book 1, bringing to life the nuanced tapestry of sounds and emotions penned by the French composer in the early 20th century.






A view of the interior plate of an 1896 Pleyel grand piano which Professor Julian Jacobson played at the grand piano showroom of Grand Passion Pianos
Interior view of the 1896 Pleyel grand piano which Jacobson played for his recital

The choice of instrument for the evening—an 1896 Pleyel grand piano—added layers of historical authenticity and sonic beauty to the performance. The Pleyel brand, well known to Debussy himself, is renowned for its warm, intimate timbre and responsive touch, qualities that were in full display as Jacobson delved into the preludes. The resonance of the piano in the acoustically inviting space of Grand Passion Pianos allowed each note to bloom and fade with natural grace, transporting the audience to the varied landscapes Debussy intended to evoke.


Jacobson's interpretation of Book 1 was both introspective and vivid. From the hauntingly beautiful "Danseuses de Delphes" to the spirited "Minstrels," his playing was a masterclass in dynamic control and expressive phrasing. The pianist's ability to convey the subtlest of Debussy's tonal shifts was particularly evident in pieces like "La cathédrale engloutie," where the rising and falling dynamics mirrored the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, suggesting the emergence and gradual submersion of the mythical cathedral.


Moreover, Jacobson's performance of "Des pas sur la neige" was a highlight of the evening, with his delicate touch evoking the silent, snow-covered landscape with exquisite sensitivity. The melancholy and isolation of the piece were palpable, showcasing Jacobson's skill in translating Debussy's visual and emotional imagery into sound.


Jacobson charmed the audience when he paused after "La danse de Puck" to announce that it was International Margarita Day. A Margarita was duly produced for Jacobson prior to the final piece of the set!


The concert was not just a musical event but an immersive experience in an intimate setting. Julian Jacobson's profound connection with the music of Debussy, combined with a historic Pleyel grand piano built during Debussy's lifetime, created an environment where every prelude was not just heard but deeply felt. His encore, Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, was a thoughtful choice that complemented the evening's repertoire and left the audience in a state of reflective admiration. The post-recital drinks continued well into the night.


Julian will perform both Book 1 and Book of the Debussy Preludes at the 1901 Arts Club on 6 June 2024. For further information, visit www.1901artsclub.com



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