Classical Aficionados: Please Suggest Debussy Solo Piano recordings

After decades of failing to discover a compelling entry point into Classical, Debussy's solo piano works have captured my interest, perhaps because I can hear a connection with Jazz piano players I enjoy. 

I've enjoyed the Arrau versions from later in the Chilean's career on Spotify. There are a  few CDs available that I plan to buy but I haven't found any CDs of the Debussy recordings he did earlier in his career. Can anyone send me a link?

Which other pianists are renowned for interpreting these works? 

And now that I think of it, another question: What are the best online sources for Classical CDs? 





I think some of the finest, and current, recordings are the complete set issued individually, by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet on the Chandos label. Another set issued individually is by Noriko Ogawa on BIS. Very different from Bavouzet, more relaxed perhaps. And, one of my favorites, the 12 Etudes by Mitsuko on a Philips disc. And last, but not musically so, Debussy’s Preludes Books 1 & 2 by Paul Jacobs on the Non Such label. He also does the Etudes Books 1 & 2 and on a separate disc Images, Estampes, and Images series II.

I do not have any Arrau recordings to compare these to.

I buy from Presto in England. Stuff is priced well and often stuff is one sale. Delivery is normally 10 days, +/-. An when not available there I often buy from Amazon. As a Prime member I get shipping free for most stuff. I like Presto much more than Amazon - the have a great web site.




I'm still hopelessly devoted to my now ancient Philippe Entremont Columbia Masterworks LP, "Claire de Lune." Unfussy. Unforced. Effortless virtuosity. Fidelity is good enough. The pieces are played in an order that makes genuine emotional sense.

There are two reference recordings of the Etudes: Krystian Zimmerman and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Both are marvelous but quite different.

I erred! I left off Mitsuko's last name. Uchida. So much for my proof reading!:-)


Thanks - I figured that out. Just ordered it from US seller on Ebay. 


Will check out the Entremont. Thank you.



@newbee --I just listened to the Bavouset via Qobuz.  Truly worthwhile. And better sound than my old Entremont. Now I got two  keepers!

edcyn, Glad you like it. You just can't have too much Debussy. :-) Now for something a bit more relaxed, try Ogawa's. She's really pretty good! Recording is too.


Just ordered the Bavouzet box set. 

I found the Ogawa a bit "soft" in some pieces. 

The Uchida is "firmer" than Bavouzet but as a long-time fan of Jazz players such as JoAnne Brackeen and McCoy Tyner, I'm OK with that. 

Funny -- I also enjoy Bill Evans, so you'd think I'd like Ogawa. 

If I may ask, which other composers of solo piano works would you suggest I explore, based upon my enjoyment of Debussy? 




Take the plunge. Journey further back in time. Try the Chopin Etudes with Maurizio Pollini. Or maybe some Franz Liszt played by Vladimir Ashkenazy or, again, Andre Watts. Liszt's Paganini Etudes are full-blown romantic insanity.

stuartk, Good move on the Debussy selection, he is currently my 1st choice. I’m not not sure where to take you on further selections, You haven’t mentioned any other composers you may have already heard and liked or not. Personally I listen a lot to the well known greats, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Prokofiev, Ravel,  Schubert and Schumann (and of course Debussy). If you have any interest in these composers I’ll be happy to recommend some specific pieces/performers.

A little off the beaten path but music you might enjoy is music by Scriabin and specifically performances by Maria Lettberg on the Capriccio label. Next, for something a little different but very interesting music by Gottschalk. Think Cuban. I listen to Philip Martin on the Hyperion label. For something big and bold, try Rachmaninov. His Preludes are a good place to start. Lots of pianists to go to but musically speaking Ashkenazy is a good place to start. Old recording on the London label and includes in addition to the Preludes, Sonata #2. Antigrundge2 mentioned Prokofiev. Two recordings that are easy to start with are on the Harmonia Mundi label and performed by Frederic Chiu - "Transcriptions" in Vol IX and Romeo and Juliet etc in Vol IV. If you like Bavouzet I think you might like Chiu.

Have fun, lots of stuff out there to hear. :-)

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is a clear first choice for Debussy in my household.  My wife refers to him as "God's cocktail pianist."  

Aldo Ciccolini or Arturo Benedetto Michelangelo.  The latt can be had on Blu Ray Audio

@antigrunge2 , @edcyn 

Thanks to you both  -- I will explore !


Thanks for your suggestions!  I'm just starting my Classical journey. Having grown tired of Rock in the late 70's, I began a long exploration of Jazz that is still ongoing. However, at this point, I think I've pretty well found what I like in terms of Jazz. I need to plumb a different well. 

Listening to Debussy solo piano is somehow "familiar". Perhaps this can be explained by his influence upon some my favorite Jazz piano players (Hancock, Corea, Evans, for example).  I don't know that I'll ever enjoy a wide range of Classical Music but at this point, I'm excited to discover whatever might appeal to me within the genre. 


Unfortunately, "cocktail pianist" is for me, off-putting rather than enticing.  

Perhaps, once I've digested the Bavouzet, I will explore other Debussy interpreters. For now, I'm more interested in finding other composers who might appeal to me as a Jazz lover. 





OK-- second vote for Michelangelo. I will keep him in mind. Don't recall having heard Ciccolini's name, before. Will investigate them both. Thanks!  




I apologize for the curt tone of my response -- it was unwarranted. I do appreciate your having taken the time to make a suggestion. 

stuartk, A suggestion for you in your search. Rather than trying to find a composer which might prove difficult as their body of music can be vast and very different piece to piece, if you pick a sour one it might be least representative of his other works, you can try getting compilations of works by pianists and labels in which you will discover a lot of diversity which would otherwise elude you. I would recommend if you chose this method to start with recordings from Steinway & Sons (and Jenny Lin). For some other current pianists who do compilations, i.e. programs as you would hear in concert, you could try Stephen Hough, Imogen Cooper, and Yuja Wang. BTW, Beethoven’s music for solo piano is profound and worth some listening effort, and if interested, Bavouzet has a worth while set out that I like. This is meat that sticks to the bones! but maybe for a bit later perhaps.

BTW, I love Jazz - I got started exploring this by listening to side men on recordings that I liked (as well as other recordings by the principle performer. Started with Evans, Peterson, Getz, Previn, etc. My only complaint about a lot of jazz from the 50’s thru 70’s is ’drums’. I like them live but not so much in my home. Jones, Jamal, and Jarrett, Peterson are my go to pianists. And I love Charlie Haden’s recordings, all of them!

Have fun.


Great idea! This has occurred to me but I haven’t had a clue re: how to go about it. Also, forays on Spotify have made me aware that listening to groups of any short form in one sitting can test my patience, especially if the differences between each track are subtle. As a Jazz fan, I’m simply accustomed to more variation/contrast in mood, tempo, etc. from track to track.

When you say: "My only complaint about a lot of jazz from the 50’s thru 70’s is ’drums", do you mean you simply don’t enjoy the sound of a trap set?

My brother dislikes the sound of sax, which is, needless to say, quite an impediment when it comes to Jazz listening.

Similarly, I’ve never warmed to the sounds of the Classically-trained voice or full orchestra. I prefer smaller groups in Jazz as well -- you'll find no Big Bands in my collection. Even if this were not the case, I suspect my monitor-based system is not up to the task of presenting an orchestra in a convincing manner. 

In terms of Jazz vocalists I like, Sarah Vaughan is the one who most closely approaches the sound of a Classically-trained singer. Hopefully, despite these limitations, I’ll still be able to discover plenty of Classical music to enjoy.

Thanks again for your generous responses.



@stuartk, your gracious word of apology is accepted.  And I commend your exploration of music new to you -- there's a lot to discover!  In addition to Debussy -- an excellent choice, esp. for one coming from a jazz-listening background -- you might also look into Maurice Ravel and Eric Satie.  And then there's Beethoven, who might be said to have invented boogie-woogie in the second movement of his piano sonata No. 32.


Thanks for the additional suggestions. Ravel and Satie have also been suggested by others. They're at the top of my list for exploring on Spotify.

I had imagined Beethoven might have a single bluesy bone in his body!  

Last post, I swear! :-)

Lots of folks don't care that much for Bach, including me, but a lot of folks are anchored to him so maybe he has something that might appeal to you. When you get a chance pull up and listen to the Goldberg Variations, and preferably by a new young lady of substantial skills, Beatrice Rana, on the Warner Classics label.

BTW, re drums I really like them when they are used to support the music but when the drummer is spot lit and gets to beat the crap out of those poor cylinders without any 'musical' accompaniment I can take a pass. :-)

@gg107 Yeah, whenever I hear it I'm pretty much totally taken aback when Beethoven goes into a boogie-woogie in his Sonata No. 32. It's as if he's going a bit insane as he conjures up a variation and then forges onto the next. I first came across it in the old Rudolf Serkin recording. Serkin did it straight as hell. Impressive, but just too square for me. Brendel actually gave the variation a hint of fun when I saw him do the piece at, where was it, Royce Hall?


"Last post, I swear! :-)"

OK. Your comments and suggestions have been very helpful. I'll check out the Goldberg variations, as you suggest.

So, no Elvin Jones or Tony Williams recordings for you!  I get it -- a "little goes a long way" as the  saying goes. For me, it depends upon the drummer and the context/piece. From my perspective, any Jazz soloist can outstay their welcome, should they lose focus or become repetitive.