Distinguished international pianist Jorge Federico Osorio brings his flair for French music to works of the Baroque, Romantic, and early 20th century eras by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Emmanuel Chabrier, Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel. Fittingly, Osorio opens The French Album with Fauré’s exquisite Pavane and concludes with the ever-popular Pavane pour une enfante défunte by Fauré’s student, Ravel. The Mexican-born, European-trained pianist offers eight of Debussy’s pictorial Préludes, each with its unique sound world, including the mystical La Cathédrale engloutie, one of the most stunning pieces ever composed for piano. Another audience favorite is Debussy’s evocative Claire de lune from his Suite bergamasque. Providing contrast, Rameau’s whimsical Les Tricotets conjures the back-and-forth motion of knitting needles. A set of Spanish-flavored works include Chabrier’s Cuban-inspired Habanera; Debussy’s lively La Puerta del Vino, depicting sailors carousing and enjoying their wine, and La soirée dans Grenade, where the piano imitates the sound of a guitar; and Ravel’s Alborado del gracioso, brimming with Iberian rhythms.
What appears to be a hodgepodge of French pieces actually emerges as a carefully crafted program. Pianist Jorge Federico Osorio begins with Fauré’s famous Pavane, where his elegant phrasing and fluid “walking” tempo assiduously segue into a well-contrasted Debussy group. He brings a strong rhythmic profile and dry-point clarity to works dominated by rapid passagework such as Les collines d’Anacapri, Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest, and Feux d’artifice, as well as Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso.
While Osorio certainly embraces the sensual undercurrents in Clair de lune, Voiles, Feuilles mortes, and La cathédrale engloutie, the climaxes have plenty of backbone. The pianist similarly integrates curvaceous lilt and unsentimental grit in Chabrier’s Habanera and Debussy’s habanera-like La Puerta del Vino and La soirée dans Grenade. Three selections from Rameau’s G major Suite stand out for Osorio’s care over ornaments, although his slightly heavy way with the final selection, Ravel’s Pavane, misses the animation and flexibility of the old Gieseking and Casadesus recordings. All told, an enjoyable and well-put-together recital.
– ClassicsToday (Jed Distler)