Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Frédéric Chopin - Journal Intime (Alexandre Tharaud)


Composer: Frédéric Chopin
  1. Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 63 No. 3
  2. Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23
  3. Mazurka in E minor, Op. 17 No. 2
  4. Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68 No. 2
  5. Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49
  6. Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. posthume
  7. Mazurka in A minor, Op. 7 No. 2
  8. Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38
  9. Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17 No. 4
  10. Largo in C minor
  11. Trois Ecossaises, Op. 72 No. 3: in D major
  12. Trois Ecossaises, Op. 72 No. 3: in G major
  13. Trois Ecossaises, Op. 72 No. 3: in D flat major
  14. Contredanse in B flat major
  15. Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor
  16. Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2

Alexandre Tharaud, piano
Date: 2009
Label: Virgin Classics



PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

Alexandre Tharaud’s Chopin recordings, notably the 24 Preludes, have already established him as a leading interpreter of the composer, and this extremely personal recital more than adds to that impression. The ‘intimate journal’ is Tharaud’s own, rather than Chopin’s; he has compiled a sensitive and intuitive sequence of pieces, all of which he has played for many years and each of which holds some special significance for him. Some are standard fare, others much rarer: the Three Ecossaises, for example, skip into a prominence they’re not often accorded, while the short Largo would not seem wholly out of place in a bid to become Poland’s next national anthem.

The connections work almost seamlessly, segueing from work to work without any of the usual systematic categories of chronology, genre or anything else, but adding up to a more satisfying personal statement for that very reason. Tharaud’s recital is true in a way to the spirit of Chopin’s own programmes (as recreated recently by Alain Planès on the Harmonia Mundi label). Pieces are linked by key, finishing notes and/or starting notes, similarity or contrasting ideas; throughout this programme, the focus is inward, perhaps even introverted, yet intensely involving.

We can almost take for granted Tharaud’s virtuosity, his sensitivity of touch and his satisfying mixture of imagination, intuition and good sense. But he is extraordinary in one very special area: for him quietness speaks more than loudness, to the point that there is as much music in the silences as in the notes. Try the devastating pause before the conclusion of the Second Ballade, or the way he closes the F minor Fantaisie, sinking into a whispered one-line statement and a silence that resounds with compassion and acceptance before the last bars dissolve into a liquid catharsis. It’s breathtaking.

-- Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine

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Frédéric Chopin (22 February or 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for the solo piano. He gained and has maintained renown worldwide as one of the leading musicians of his era, whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation". Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars, his association (if only indirect) with political insurrection, his love life and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era in the public consciousness. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying degrees of historical accuracy.


Alexandre Tharaud (born 9 December 1968 in Paris) is a French pianist. He is active on the concert stage and has released a large and diverse discography. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of 14 where he won first prize for piano in the class of Germaine Mounier when he was 17 years old. With Theodor Paraskivesco, he mastered the piano, and he sought and received advice from Claude Helffer, Leon Fleisher and Nikita Magaloff. In 2012, Tharaud took part in the French film Amour by Michael Haneke where he played himself.


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