Chopin, Journal intime, A. Tharaud
(released on January 12, 2010)
Virgin Classics 50999 6855652 5
So Tharaud's new Chopin disc, scheduled by Virgin just in time for the composer's 200th birthday celebrations on March 1, plays to his strengths, by selecting largely from the smaller piano pieces, chosen because of the memories they evoked in Tharaud's mind. He does beautiful things with the fragile melodies and delicious harmonies of several mazurkas and nocturnes, as well as the folksy impressions of the snappier écossaises (op. 72) and the dreamy contredanse in B♭ major. With the more demanding pieces on this album, he makes one hear new things in many passages with his choice of voicing or rubato fluctuation. However, as noted before, Tharaud's formidable and easy technique is not without its limits, and the most demanding passages (like the final section of the G minor ballade) do not take your breath away. (My overall preference among living Chopin pianists, of those one is likely to hear anyway, is Evgeny Kissin, who excels at the melancholy little works and has unassailable technique in the showpieces.) For this reason and because Tharaud does not include his signature type of "encore" work, an évocation of Chopin by another composer (why not the Chopin movement from Carnaval by Robert Schumann, whose 200th birthday will also be celebrated this year, on June 8?), for example, this disc is still recommended but not with the highest marks.