Rameau, Debussy

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Rameau
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Nouvelle suite in A; Nouvelle suite in G
PERFORMER: Alexandre Tharaud (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901754
Nowadays, the Baroque harpsichord repertoire is seldom played on a modern piano. Yet a small quantity

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of it works well enough to keep the tradition alive. Scarlatti’s sonatas and Rameau’s later suites are often rewarding in the hands of sensitive pianists, and it is two of the last mentioned that Alexandre Tharaud has recorded on a contemporary Steinway. Only two pianists that I can recall offer serious competition to Tharaud’s playing – Marcelle Meyer, whose very beautiful performances, recorded by Les Discophiles Français in 1953 are currently available in France in an excellent EMI reissue, and Thérèse Dussaut, whose recording was made in 1983 to mark the tercentenary of Rameau’s birth. That one, though, has long since disappeared. Tharaud has wisely omitted Rameau’s earliest pieces belonging to the Premier livre (1706), many of which are more closely and idiomatically allied to the inflections of the harpsichord. But he plays all of those contained in the collection of c1729 adding, as an apposite coda, Debussy’s deeply felt Hommage à Rameau. Unlike Meyer and to some extent Dussaut, Tharaud is in a position to capitalise upon interpretative developments which have taken place during the past quarter-century or so. Yet, sensitive artist that he is, it is Meyer who sees the music more wholeheartedly in piano terms,

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and who, with her own inimitable insights to it, just comes out on top. Nicholas Anderson