David Jalbert performs Satie and Poulenc

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COMPOSERS: Erik Satie,Francis Poulenc
LABELS: ATMA
ALBUM TITLE: Poulenc • Satie
WORKS: Satie: Trois Gymnopédies; Les trois valses distinguées du précieux dégoûté; Je te veux; Poulenc: Les soirées de Nazelles; Mouvements perpetuels; Improvisations Nos 12 & 15; Nocturnes
PERFORMER: David Jalbert (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ATMA ACD2 2683

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Solo pianists tend to overlook Poulenc. On a first encounter, the nonchalant, playful charm of his music can mask both the challenges and the undercurrent of often melancholic profundity. David Jalbert frames this recital with two relatively sizeable pieces. Les soirées de Nazelles, a theme and variations, each a cheeky vignette, enjoys an effervescent performance, while the Nocturnes are generally more reflective. Jalbert makes the bass end of the piano purr seductively, and there are numerous magical moments where forthright bluster effortlessly turns to sublime delicacy. It is a pity, then, that there is a brittle, clattering edge to some louder passages in the upper register, and the tuning has slipped in places to leave an acidic taste.

In between, there are spirited performances of Mouvements perpetuels and two of the Improvisations and a handful of pieces by Satie. The combination of his Three Distinguished Waltzes of a Jaded Dandy and insouciantly seductive Je te veux effectively illuminate Satie’s influence on his younger countryman. The same cannot be said of Jalbert’s stiffly pedestrian Trois Gymnopédies. Surely he could have included more of Poulenc’s Improvisations instead, for the two here are highlights.

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Christopher Dingle