Thibaudet in Rome – the supreme colourist

Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Rome
Ravishing playing and a tour de force of transcendental control of sound and colour.Twenty four Preludes by Debussy are 24 problems as Fou Ts’ong used to say about the Chopin Preludes.


I would say even bigger problems as each one is a miniature tone poem with a quite unique way of touching the keys and using the pedals.


A golden glissando in diminuendo in Feux d’artifice was astonishing as it was ravishing.
The layers of sound in Voiles was the stuff that legends are made of.
The subtle projection of Des pas sur la neige was breathtaking.
The monumental performance of La Cathédrale engloutie I have never been so overwhelmed since Cortot’s memorable account
What fun he had with Général Lavine and the tongue in cheek Hommage à Samuel Pickwick Esq.
I remember a documentary of Fou Ts’ong once where the camera was silently roaming about his big house in Hermitage Lane while he was playing Canope that he loved so much for its total feeling of desolation.The same atmosphere that Thibaudet captured in this far from full Symphony Hall.
Les tierces alternées like his late studies were a lesson in how an exercise can be turned into a magic atmosphere of invention and imagination.

Astonishing virtuosity in ‘Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ovest’ and ‘La Puerta Del Vino.’’Ondine’was every bit as beautiful as it was in Rubinstein’s hands although played with much more mystery and scintillating colours.The same magical sounds that he brought to ‘La terrasse des audiences du Clair de lune.’’Brouillards’and ‘Bruyères’were bathed in subtle murmurs from an etherial world.But ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’was made of streams of gold.To ‘Feuilles mortes’he brought such an extraordinary sense of subtle emptiness immediately interrupted by the explosive ‘La Puerta Del Vino.’

A continual voyage of discovery shared secretly with us with a kaleidoscopic range of colour.It was a much more luminous sound that he brought to Elgar’s ‘Salut d’Amour’ played with that aristocratic elegance and style that is never weak or sentimental.This was the nobility of sound and elegance of Paris of the 30’s that we had been treated to today as we had been in the past by Rubinstein or Ciccolini with their inimitable performances of Poulenc.


A small but very enthusiastic audience greeted each book with cheers.
Obviously the handful of connoisseurs that abound in our great cities were not going to miss a pianist that even Perlemuter admired when he heard him playing Ravel as a teenager.
Looking ever more like his teacher Aldo Ciccolini.
After 75 minutes of absolute perfection and total concentration he played ‘Salut d’Amour’ Ciccolini’s favourite encore.
What better tribute could there be from one great artist to another and indeed to his much missed mentor?

Many more great performances to look forward to in Rome

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