Chopin Waltzes – Alexandre Tharaud

Frederic Chopin

Valses

Alexandre Tharaud, piano

In his performances of Chopin’s eternal waltzes Alexandre Tharaud proves himself an independent Chopinist, taking each piece on its own rather than as a part of a whole, with mixed results. It’s also probably one of the more complete sets of¬†waltzes, including all the posthumous ones as well as the usual published ones.

Completeness aside, how are the performances? His accounts are, unusually for a Frenchman, studied, and tend toward the Germanic, shunning away from the sheer whirlwind glitter of such pianists as Zoltan Kocsis and the evocation of Paris as Dinu Lipatti or Rubinstein could, and his treatment is resolutely unsentimental.

At times, the playing calls attention to itself, for example in the op 34/2 waltz in A minor, where he experiments with the different ways of executing the trills, sometimes to rather distracting effect.¬†Other times, the music just doesn’t take off with that sense of throwaway joie de vivre where you might expect it to, for example in the speedy codas muting that sense of joy that so often co-exists with Chopin’s melancholy.

The piano is as well-recorded as one might hope for, with Tharaud’s fine tone and touch caught nicely, but if you’re looking for a fine set of these pieces, Lipatti’s recordings, albeit not as well-recorded and sounding as old as they are, still set the bar.

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