If you have the opportunity to sample this disc before buying it, play track number 5. You'll first hear a wistful waltz theme, harmonized in a manner that would not be out of place in a Michel Legrand film soundtrack. But as the piano writing grows darker and more complex, you start to think that Rachmaninov or Ravel had a hand in things. Then play track 6. You'll hear skillful, skittish piano writing whose textures and harmonies sound like Albéniz and Gershwin trading secrets. Tracks 7 and 10 mate Ravel's delicacy with those juicy parallel chords Delius and Bax loved. Track 9 is a haunting nocturne that evokes Rachmaninov's later, neo-classical lyricism, while track 8 is a dazzlingRead more "moto perpetuo" packed with gorgeous impressionistic harmonies and technical scintillation. You look at the booklet notes, and your jaw drops when you learn that the latter two tracks ("Tristesse" and "Les Mouettes") were composed by a seven-year-old boy, whose name is completely unfamiliar.
Until pianist Alain Lefèvre recorded André Mathieu's piano concerto, I had never heard this Canadian composer's name, let alone his music, most of which is difficult to locate. Lefèvre has made the tragically short-lived Mathieu (1929-1968) his mission, putting his heart, soul, and best technical efforts into communicating these truly gorgeous short pieces, as well as an abbreviated solo piano version of the aforementioned concerto. In addition, Lefèvre presents an extended composition by the young Canadian composer Boris Petrowski that ingeniously updates Mathieu's style and spirit. The program's final work, Walter Boudreau's stark, sardonic Asylum Waltz, recalls not so much Mathieu as Nino Rota recomposing Satie for a Fellini film. Not only does this disc serve up a feast of unexpected pleasures, it also features Alain Lefèvre's finest solo playing on record to date.