This is an album of ‘encores’ from the brilliant French pianist that we saw at the RNCM about a month ago.
As the title implies, they are signature tunes in a sense, works of personal significance to Tharaud. He describes the album as making up a ‘coherent mocsaic’, a mosaic that serves as both a self-portrait and a snapshot of his current concert repertoire.
There are twenty three pieces all told, by twenty two different composers. Only Bach, supreme master of the keyboard, is represented twice and he in fact opens and closes the album. The longest piece, just short of six minutes, is Grieg’s joyous and infectious Wedding Day at Troldhaugen; the shortest (one and a half minutes) is Tailleferre’s Valse lente. One of three waltzes (the others are by Sibelius and Chopin), it is characterised by an elegant, clear melody.
French composers are in the majority, but except for that, these pieces are surprisingly diverse. A variety of styles and periods are represented, from baroque to avant-garde (e.g. Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 3). There are myriad moods, though it has to be said that Poulenc’s Melancolie belies its title (unless he intended it to raise one’s spirits), and a profusion of different flavours. Rameau’s lovely Les Sauvages teases the mind.
Not all performers give encores, as we know. It is a discretionary act, a gift freely offered. Think of Tharaud’s enchanting album in the same way, as a gift resplendent with radiant gems.
Further details of the album can be found here.