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Alexandre Tharaud: piano's pioneer?

By François Hudry |

The French pianist is never afraid to challenge expectations of the genre, and things are certainly no different with "Versailles".

One never comes across any ordinariness when following Alexandre Tharaud’s career. This new album, Versailles, is as impressive in the originality of its conception as much as its meticulous musical delivery.

The French pianist appears to be nostalgic towards two different golden ages: that of 17th-century music, and that of the French piano during the 1950s, specifically Marcelle Meyer’s inspiring playing which Tharaud remains motivated by.

The Versailles which has attracted Alexandre Tharaud, and serves as the title for this recital, is less Louis XIV’s opulent world of wonder and more of an intimate world of secretive music. Without any difficulty, the pianist manages to make these pieces specifically written for the harpsichord entirely his own, even going as far as inviting young harpsichordist Justin Taylor to join him for a rendition of Rameau’s Les Sauvages... for four hands on the piano!

If the pianist Marcelle Meyer had recorded Rameau and Couperin in an era more liberal than today, Alexandre Tharaud has the audacity to go against musicological rules for the listener’s benefit.

Of course, we are accustomed to Bach, Scarlatti, Couperin and Rameau on the modern piano, but Pancrace Royer, Robert de Visée, Jean-Henry D’Anglebert and Jacques Duphly are suddenly thrust into the limelight of this musical collection which incidentally highlights their relevance.


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