Alain Lefèvre

Rachmaninov: Neuf Études-Tableaux, Op. 39; Schubert: Drei Klavierstücke

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Canadian pianist Alain Lefèvre has a penchant for selecting programs filled with impassioned, even cathartic music; this album is no exception. Rachmaninov's Op. 39 Etudes-Tableaux were composed after a series of emotionally devastating setbacks. Similarly, Schubert's D. 946 Drei Klavierstucke were completed only months before his own death. Rachmaninov's etudes, as the name would suggest, absolutely make extreme technical demands on the performer, with each etude focusing on a particular skill. But like other etudes in Rachmaninov's oeuvre, these contain a great many musical demands, and a successful performance of them requires a delicate balance between the two. Lefèvre possesses technique in abundance, and delivers even the most fiendish of passages with apparent ease and clarity. From a musical perspective, however, there may be a bit too much clarity. While over-pedaling is the curse of most any solo piano album, Lefèvre almost seems to err on the other end, with too much disconnect between notes at times and a feeling of rigidity in the execution of complex rhythmic passages. The three Schubert pieces are equally well-played from a technical standpoint, but musically are very aggressive at times, making them sound much more like Rachmaninov than Schubert.

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