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François-René Duchable (piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH (arr. Duchable) (1685-1750)
Choral ‘Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’ BWV 639 [2.07]
Adagio from the Toccata for Organ in A minor BWV 564 [3.05]
Choral ‘Jesu Bleibet Meine Freunde’ BWV 147 [3.30]
Sicilienne from Flute Sonata BWV 1031 [2.00]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No 8 (Pathetique) in C minor Op 13 [17.29]
Piano Sonata No. 14 ‘Moonlight’ in C sharp minor Op27 No 2 [15.09]
‘Fur Elise’ [2.27]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in D minor Kk 141 [3.35]
Sonata in C major Kk 132 [6.37]
Sonata in G major Kk 13 [3.44]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Fantasie in D minor K 397 [5.49]
François-René Duchable (piano)
rec. Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, 18-20 September 1995
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5221272 [66.39]


Experience Classicsonline

This CD has music from the great keyboard players of the Baroque/Classical eras; albeit Mozart is only represented by one piece. François-René Duchable is out to show his skills in some challenging, and well known, music; as well as his skills as an arranger of organ music for the piano. The two ‘meaty’ pieces are the Beethoven piano sonatas which have been recorded by all the ‘greats’ of the piano world.

The Bach ‘Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’ is a good arrangement and is nicely played but the piano shows the first problem I have with this particular instrument – a very ‘woolly’, muffled sounding bass.

The first of the Beethoven sonatas is the Pathétique.  The opening Grave seems to me to lack any poetry in the playing and the ensuing Allegro is rushed.  I compared it with my favourite pianist in this piece – Wilhelm Kempff – who has much feeling in the opening and takes the Allegro at a steadier pace which allows him to make more of the dynamic markings. Duchable gives us the first movement repeat which Kempff sadly does not.  In the  Adagio cantabile Duchable is slower than Kempff but the latter has a much more cantabile (singing) quality about his playing.  In the Rondo finale Duchable is fast and sounds rushed, as if he is out to show his technique rather than make something fulfilling of the music.

The Bach Sicilienne from a Flute Sonata is a good arrangement but sounds bland without the contrast of the flute sound against the piano.

The three Scarlatti sonatas are short but a real challenge to the technique of any keyboard player.  I think they are meant to allow the player to show off, and this Duchable does with relish.  Scarlatti spent time in Spain and I feel that these works may have been influenced by the sounds of the guitar.

The Mozart Fantasie in D minor is a pot-pourri of different styles. It needs a capable pianist to achieve a cohesive, satisfying whole, which Duchable does well.

The next Bach piece is just the Adagio section from the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue for organ in A minor; a wise choice to arrange just this section  as the other two parts would not, I think, sound well on the piano.  It is again a good arrangement, but I personally miss the plodding pedal bass from the organ.

Beethoven’s bagatelle ‘Fur Elise is delightfully played.

The Moonlight’ sonata first movement suffers from being too loud in comparison with the early recording of Alfred Brendel which is subdued and altogether more peaceful … and incidentally, faster than Duchable.  The Allegretto second movement is faster than either Brendel or Kempff and so sounds perfunctory.  The finale is just rushed, almost frantic, as if the player’s technique was being pushed to the very limit.  It seems that selecting the right tempo can make a great deal of difference in Beethoven.

The final Bach item ‘Jesu Bleibet Meine Freunde’ (‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ in English) is a good arrangement and a steady performance.

I touched on a problem with the instrument used in this recording at the start. As the disc progressed it was apparent that as well as the ‘woolly’-sounding bass, the middle register is what I can only describe as ‘twangy’ and some notes (particularly the middle C and the D a ninth above it) have a very unpleasant metallic ring to them. It is almost as if the piano hadn’t been ‘voiced’ properly by the tuner.

However, I enjoyed the Bach arrangements and the virtuosity of the Scarlatti, but if you want fine performances of the Beethoven sonatas, look elsewhere.

Arther Smith

1.         Choral ‘Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’ BWV 639
2.         Piano Sonata No 8 (Pathetique) Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio
3.         Piano Sonata No 8 (Pathetique) Adagio cantabile
4.         Piano Sonata No 8 (Pathetique) Rondo allegro
5.         Sicilienne from Flute Sonata BWV 1031
6.         Sonata in D minor Kk 141
7.         Sonata in C major Kk 132
8.         Sonata in G major Kk 13
9.         Fantasie in D minor K 397
10.       Adagio from the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue for Organ in A minor BWV 564
11.       ‘Fur Elise’
12.       Piano Sonata No. 14 ‘Moonlight’ Adagio sostenuto
13.       Piano Sonata No. 14 ‘Moonlight’ Allegretto
14.       Piano Sonata No. 14 ‘Moonlight’ Presto
15.       Choral ‘Jesu Bleibet Meine Freunde’ BWV 147


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