Despite all the somewhat hip graphics, this release from the new partnership of the venerable French label Erato and the revived Warner Classics imprint is at root a very old-fashioned type of album: a program of encores. Even some of the music might have been heard 50 or 75 years ago in a concert by one of the leading touring virtuosos of the day: the Sibelius Valse triste, Op. 44/1, and the Leopold Godowsky arrangement of Saint-Saëns Le Cygne, for example, are such chestnuts that they're actually a bit less often heard nowadays. But French pianist Alexandre Tharaud updates the old paradigm in several ways. First and most significantly, he adds some new material to the encores mix and integrates it effectively into the overall framework. Such works as Ignacio Cervantes' rattling Adiós a Cuba and Federico Mompou's El Lago not only are fresh in this setting but broaden out the mood and expressive range of the whole as the program proceeds. He also adds several Baroque keyboard pieces to the picture with entrancing effect. Finally, Tharaud has a moody and slightly capricious approach to the Romantic mainstream pieces on the bill that works well in this context. With superb sound from the entirely acoustically appropriate Salle Colonne in Paris, this is a strong release that serves the needs of the listener looking for a light album of incidental piano music.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Romances sans paroles, Op. 17|
Ballet des Ombres heureuses (Dance of the Blessed Spirits) (transcription after Gluck, from Orfeo ed Euridice)