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Tailleferre: Piano Works, Vol. 1 (Horvath)

Nicolas Horvath (piano) (Grand Piano)

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

Piano Works, Vol. 1: Sous le rempart d’Athènes; Fleurs de France Suite; Suite dans le style Louis XV; Au pavillon d’Alsace; Pastorale Amazone; Pastorale Inca; Impromptu; Romance etc
Nicolas Horvath (piano)
Grand Piano GP891   83:21 mins


Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) was the only female composer of ‘Les Six’ and, unlike most of her colleagues, has infrequently graced contemporary concert halls. She was an excellent pianist, playing duos with Satie and Stravinsky, and many of the pieces here have the quirky brevity of the former and the bitonal and polytonal gravitation of the latter, while also showing some affinity for the language of Lili Boulanger and for Fauré in his Arcadian mode. There’s a fondness for pastorales and archaic styles from past centuries, with admirable clarity and condensed thinking throughout.

Tailleferre needs advocacy, but in some ways this first volume in a new series by pianist Nicolas Horvath is possibly a victim of its own ‘completism’. There is some fascinating, highly individual music in it, but a chunk is devoted to transcriptions of Baroque and Renaissance pieces – some barely 18 seconds long and, though pleasant, serving little purpose. Tailleferre at her best is represented by, for example, an Impromptu and a Romance; there are other moments, however, which can become infuriating, progress seemingly trapped in an ostinato pattern or one harmony (as in Pastorale Inca), and a lengthy piece based on some of her incidental music, Sous le rempart d’Athènes, relies on obsessive trilling.

Horvath’s playing does not always bring the pieces convincingly to life, being very forthright in tone, with voices sometimes not as carefully layered, coloured or phrased as they could have been. The piano’s treble seems also to lose some of its tuning.

Jessica Duchen

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