Schubert – Divertissement a la hongroise [Alexandre Tharaud, Zhu Xiao-Mei] (2003) • Harmonia Mundi

Having admired previous solo CDs by Alexandre Tharaud (in Rameau) and Zhu Ziao-Mei (Bach’s Partitas), I’m not surprised by the sensitivity and relaxed authority these pianists bring to this delightful Schubert duet program. Their teamwork defines unanimity on every level, from ideal balances between registers to seamless dynamic gradations, and no banging whatsoever. They sustain the Divertissement à la hongroise’s longish outer movements and A-flat Variations with brisk basic tempos, colored with subtle rubatos.

A similar ebb and flow graces the F minor Fantasy, enhanced by excellently judged transitions to demarcate the composer’s startling changes of key (especially the one leading into the grandiose F-sharp minor episode). However, listeners familiar with Perahia and Lupu’s assertive poetry (in the opening section) and faster sequences may find Tharuad and Ziao-Mei comparatively underprojected and refined to a fault. This impression may have more to do with the reverberant, slightly distant miking. Nonetheless, Schubert duet fans (and how can you resist this repertoire!) surely will enjoy what Tharaud and Ziao-Mei have to offer here.
/Jed Distler,

01 – Divertissement a la hongroise en sol mineur Op.54, D 818- 1. Andante
02 – Divertissement a la hongroise en sol mineur Op.54, D 818- 2. Marche
03 – Divertissement a la hongroise en sol mineur Op.54, D 818- 3. Allegretto
04 – Variations sur un theme original en la bemol majeur Op.35, D 813
05 – Fantaisie en fa mineur Op.103, D 940



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