Alexandre Tharaud – Autograph = BACH (arr. Siloti): Prelude in B Minor; FAURE: Romance, Op. 17, No. 3; GLUCK (arr. Siloti): Ballet des Ombres heureuses; RACHMANINOV: Prelude in C-sharp Minor; TCHAIKOVSKY: Nocturne, Op. 19, No. 4; GRIEG: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen; SIBELIUS: Valse triste; SCRIABIN: Prelude for the Left Hand, Op. 9, No. 1; MENDELSSOHN: Song Without Words, Op. 67, No. 2; CHOPIN: Waltz in D-flat Major; SAINT-SAENS (arr. Godowsky): Le Cygne; COUPERIN: Le Tic-Toc Choc; CHABRIER: Feuillet d’album; D. SCARLATTI: Sonata in D Minor; BIZET: Adagietto from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 1; CERVANTES: Adios a Cuba; STRASNOY: Tourbillon; POULENC: Melancolle; MOMPOU: No. 1 Lago; TAILLEFERRE: Valse lente; SATIE: Gymnpedie No. 3; BACH (arr. Tharaud): Andante fr. Concerto BWV 929 – Alexandre Tharaud, piano – Erato 934137 2, 69:18 [Distr. by Warner Classics] (11-26-13) ****:

Recorded at the Salle Colonne, Paris (3-6 January and 1-3 April 2013), these 23 encores mean to pay tribute to Alexandre Tharaud’s audience, the works assembled as a ”mosaic. . .that sum up my repertoire and my career.” Tharaud also wishes to honor certain pianists high in his esteem: Artur Rubinstein, Aldo Ciccolini, and Lazar Berman. Wishing to maintain “rapport with the listener,” Tharaud feels that any of these pieces might strike a chord with a particular audience member who knows “that I am dedicating an encore to him. . .a dialogue sometimes followed by an autograph.”

The program, despite its range, remains essentially light and aerial, beginning and ending with Bach. Cecile Lenoir, producer and balance engineer, lets the keyboard (Steinway D) shine in unassuming glamour. The Faure Romance sans paroles confirms Tharaud’s gentle spirit. So, too, the Gluck Melodie from his opera Orfeo, with Siloti’s having transformed the beguiling flute for the piano. Tchaikovsky’s contemplative Nocturne from Op. 19 could supply the rubric for this disc. The Rameau Les Sauvages permits, along with the Rachmaninov C-sharp Minor Prelude, some “primitive” energy and digital prowess. The Sibelius Valse triste adds a degree of wistful passion we might otherwise miss. The longest of the encores, Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, generates a lively folk excitement. The middle section wedding bells enjoy a crisp delicacy.

Some of the pieces exude an erotic languor, like Scriabin’s Left-Hand Prelude, Saint-Saens’ Le Cygne, Poulenc’s appropriately named Melancolle, and the Stasnoy arrangement of George Delerue’s Tourbillon from the classic film Jules et Jim. Satie’s exotic Gymnopedie No. 3 lies somewhere in its own eccentric world. Little moments of subtle virtuosity enter with Chopin’s “Minute” Waltz, Scarlatti’s D Minor Sonata, K. 141, and Couperin’s Tic-Toc Choc, an old “etude” favorite of my mentor Jean Casadesus. With music by Mompou, Chabrier, and Cervantes, Tharaud demonstrates possibilities in the Spanish repertory as yet unfulfilled in his recorded legacy. An altogether charming, unforced set of encores, plastic, elegant, and eminently stylistic. Recommended!

—Gary Lemco