Alexandre Tharaud pays tribute to composers associated with the courts of the French kings Louis XIV, XV and XVI. Lully, Rameau, Charpentier and François Couperin stand beside lesser-known masters: d’Anglebert, Forqueray, Royer, Duphly and Balbastre. “I’ve always been attracted by French music of this period,” says Tharaud, adding that when he plays the album’s initial Rameau prelude, “It’s like being alone at Versailles, opening the doors and entering those huge, imposing rooms.”
He doesn’t let the fact that some of this music is inherently unpianistic get in his way. It’s a beautifully programmed disc – so much soRead more that it begs to be heard complete. His sense of characterisation and fine detailing is everywhere apparent. Even for aficionados of this repertoire there are surprises to be had.
Such verbal insight and enthusiasm are mirrored in superb performances of the music, be they frisky or plaintive, poetic or pungent, gloriously dismissive of convention or expectation. In Rameau’s Gavotte et doubles he employs the widest variety of touch and colour, revelling in the resources of a modern piano, while in the same composer’s Viens, Hymen he is joined by silvery-voiced Sabine Devieilhe.