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Solo Piano - Released September 13, 2019 | Decca

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The early recordings of a keyboard lioness, long unavailable and new to CDNot generally given to extravagant effusions, William Glock (Controller of Radio 3 and the BBC Proms in the 1970s) had no doubt: ‘There is no one who plays the piano better in the world than she does. There is no one with a more fantastic command of the piano … not over felt, not under-felt, nothing rushed just to show off and yet the greatest playing I’ve heard for years’. He was referring to the French pianist Cécile Ousset, whose career had belatedly sparked to life and international recognition with appearances across the UK and US and a new contract with EMI Records. Yet prior to this Ousset had made several recordings since her success in the late 1950s at several major European competitions. She accumulated a considerable catalogue on Eterna, the East German label, but then Ousset signed to make recordings with Sofrason, the Société Française du Son. These were licensed for wider release by the French arm of Decca, but Sofrason went out of business in 1981 and the recordings have never been reissued – until now. This new Eloquence set includes an appreciation of Ousset’s art by the French pianophile Jean-Charles Hoffélé. These ‘French Decca’ recordings all date from 1971–76, and they include much solo repertoire that Ousset never recorded again, though they share similar qualities with the much-acclaimed concerto recordings that she made in the 1980s: an unsentimental palette of rubato and tone-colour, a fearless and brilliant command of articulation, and a uniquely French mastery of jeu perlé. The first album made an imaginative and attractive compilation of fin-de-siècle Parisians from Saint-Saëns to Satie. The second displayed her particular affinity with the Russian post-Romantics, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev; and the third coupled two landmarks of German-Romantic piano literature, by Brahms and Schumann. These all received a later international LP issue on the ‘Ace of Diamonds’ imprint and to very warm reviews. However, Ousset’s last recordings from this period encompassed the complete variations of Beethoven, issued by French Decca in two volumes (a 3LP and a 2LP box). Its disappearance particularly dismayed Ousset herself: ‘I made a big effort on that one,’ she remarked in a 1984 interview, ‘and it came off beautifully’. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)

Accordion - Released August 11, 2017 | Berlin Classics


Accordion - Released June 20, 2007 | Berlin Classics


Classical - Released October 6, 2003 | Warner Classics

Technically, Cécile Ousset can play Chopin, but realistically, she lacks in interpretive skills. There is little grace and delicacy in the florid ornamentation, little lyricism in the melodies, and little sense that she is even trying to nuance the expressive possibilities of the music. The "Funeral March" of the Sonata No. 2 doesn't have any gravitas. In the middle of the first scherzo, you can barely pick out the lullaby from the choppy accompaniment. She almost gets it in the Scherzo No. 2, but still has the tendency to be heavy-handed with the accompaniment. The opening of the Ballade No. 1 should have elegance, not sound like a series of octaves played completely detached, with each one quieter than the last. It is as if she is playing exactly what is written without much personal involvement, which is not to say these are introverted performances; rather, there is no sense at all of what these pieces mean to her. By and large, Ousset presents an unimaginative view of Chopin's works. © TiVo