Notes and Editorial Reviews
One perk resulting from Jean Dubé's 2002 International Franz Liszt Competition victory is the present recording in Naxos' ongoing complete Liszt cycle. Dubé follows the precedent set by Stephen Hough and Leslie Howard on Hyperion by coupling Liszt's frequently recorded Second Polonaise and Second Ballade with the composer's neglected first essays in these respective genres. Dubé doesn't probe the C minor Polonaise's darker corners in Howard's spacious, bass-oriented manner, but he brings more sparkle and élan to the glittering passagework. His French training similarly manifests itself in the E major Polonaise's rhythmic verve.
Dubé shares Hough's brisk, clipped conception of the
D-flat Ballade and proves more characterful in the central march section, if not quite so immaculate from a technical standpoint. And whereas Arrau and Bolet traverse the B minor Ballade's heroic narrative in epic cinemascope, Dubé's command performance is a stark, action-packed film noir in glorious black and white. I like Dubé's relaxed rumination in Au bord d'une source, but his frequent leaning on the downbeats leaves a foursquare impression. The three Swiss Morceaux draw upon traditional Alpine folksong and yodeling ditties, showcasing Liszt's flashy pianistic ingenuity treading insubstantial water. The best way to approach this side of Liszt is simply to let your virtuoso hair down and play the hell out of the music. And that's precisely what Jean Dubé does.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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