Chopin, Ravel, Saint-Sa‘ns & Debussy

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Ravel,Saint-Sa‘ns & Debussy
LABELS: BBC Wigmore Hall
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Cecile Ousset
WORKS: Valses nobles et sentimentales; Pavane
PERFORMER: Cécile Ousset (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCW 1003-2
Cécile Ousset is a puzzling and frustrating pianist. On the one hand she is capable of the most exquisite phrasing. She can exert phenomenal control and draw a kaleidoscope of timbre from her instrument. On the other hand, entire passages or pieces can pass by without making the least impression. The music happens. It is played proficiently, but simply does not engage the listener. This Wigmore Hall recital provides numerous examples of both facets of her playing. The Chopin Waltzes are full of colour, displaying a deft touch, and yet, for music which is inately charming, they rarely bring a smile to the face. Ousset makes heavy weather of Ravel’s Pavane, but, despite the occasional bland patch, everything is grace and light for the Valses nobles et sentimentales.

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Thus far, it is a reliable, distinctly polite, recital which is perfectly pleasant, but ultimately unmemorable. The delightfully capricious whizz through Saint-Saëns furiously virtuosic Toccata gives a disconcerting wake-up call from the anodyne land of beautifully crafted blandness. Ousset can grab you by the scruff of the neck and make you listen. She is capable of invoking exhilaration and delight. All is forgiven, or forgotten. ‘Play an encore… it is only polite.’ Christopher Dingle