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Autograph
Encores by Bach, Chopin, Fauré, Grieg, Poulenc, Scarlatti and others
see end of review for full track-listing
Alexandre Tharaud (piano)
Booklet and recording info not provided with review disc
WARNER ERATO 9341372 [69:21]

Encore albums are all the rage these days. Piers Lane scored a Recording of the Month accolade for his last year (I liked it too), and Mikhail Pletnev just released an album of quick performances that preceded his recording sessions (avant-cores?). Alexandre Tharaud’s album, like Lane’s, says a lot about his temperament, his strengths, and his passions, and like Lane’s, it is superb.
 
We begin and end with luminous transcriptions of Bach, the composer who inspired what remains possibly Tharaud’s best album yet. In the middle there’s Couperin’s Tic-Toc-Choc, which inspired a previous Tharaud recording; Mompou, whom Tharaud has used as an encore before; Scarlatti, to whom Tharaud has also devoted a full disc; and Poulenc, whose chamber music he recorded, complete, for Naxos. If this is a roundabout summary of his career so far - and if I wondered at times whether the recordings were really new - that’s okay, mostly because it’s so nice.
 
The Bach, as mentioned, is as achingly beautiful and expressive as it was on the first CD, the Couperin as rambunctious as before, the Chopin waltz as scintillating. What’s new is good too. Ignacio Cervantes, a Caribbean composer, supplies Adios a Cuba, Sibelius’ Valse triste makes a surprise appearance, and Tharaud turns out, unsurprisingly, to be a gifted player of Grieg, too. Everybody who knows Tharaud’s love for piano-fied baroque will be pleased by his Gluck/Siloti ‘Dance of the blessed spirits,’ so pretty it’s almost unfair. I just wish, as always with albums like these, that that blasted Rachmaninov C sharp minor prelude could be given a rest. Enough already.
 
Altogether this is a joy. Recorded sound is top-notch, too. I can’t supply recording dates and information because Erato sent us a review copy which consisted only of the CD and an envelope, but other sources tell me that the booklet includes an interview with the pianist.
 
Brian Reinhart 


 
Full track-listing
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prélude in B minor (arr. Siloti) [3:02]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Romance sans paroles No. 3 [2:25]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Les Sauvages [2:04]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Dance of the blessed spirits (arr. Siloti) [3:15]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Prelude in C sharp minor, Op 3 No 2 [4:08]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Nocturne No. 4 [3:37]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Wedding-day in Troldhaugen [5:39]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Valse triste, Op 44 No 1 [4:07]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Prelude for the left hand, Op 9 No 1 [2:24]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Romance sans paroles, Op 67 No 2 [1:59]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Waltz Op 64 No 1 [1:50]
Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921)
Le cygnet (arr. Godowsky) [2:49]
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
Le Tic-Toc-Choc ou Les Maillotins [2:33]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
Feuillet d’album [1:56]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in D minor, K141 [3:34]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Adagietto, from L’Arlésienne Suite No. 1 (arr. Tharaud) [2:34]
Ignacio CERVANTES (1847-1905)
Adios a Cuba [1:51]
Oscar STRASNOY (b.1970)
Tourbillon [2:16]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Mélancolie [5:23]
Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987)
El Lago [4:14]
Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1892-1983)
Valse lente [1:35]
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)
Gymnopédie No. 3 [2:48]
VIVALDI/BACH (re-arr. Tharaud)
Andante from concerto BWV979 [3:17]