BOULANGER; FAURÉ; MESSIAEN Preludes Vol 3 (Alexandra Dariescu)
The UK-based Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu continues her survey of various prelude cycles with Fauré and Messiaen. It commences with a gripping curtain-raiser in the form of Lili Boulanger’s D flat major Prelude. Dariescu communicates the music’s brooding atmosphere, imaginative register deployment and shattering climactic descending passages in octaves: all qualities that attest to this tragically short-lived composer’s substantial talent and expressive powers.
Fauré’s Op 103 Preludes further demonstrate Dariescu’s artistic ripening and growing assurance since her solo CD debut (A/12). She wields a light yet shapely hand over the first prelude’s accompaniment, giving just enough emphasis to the composer’s delicately wrought dissonances, although No 2’s rapidly fluttering right-hand patterns lack Jeffrey Swann’s supple finish (Music & Arts) or Louis Lortie’s steely scintillation (Chandos, 11/16). But she captures No 4’s lyrical innocence, almost in the manner of a disarming folk singer. In No 5 Dariescu’s phrasing tellingly accounts for Fauré’s subtle harmonic shifts, even if Lortie gives stronger voice to the cross-rhythmic writing. She brings out the delicacy and austerity of No 6’s sparse counterpoint with a pellucid touch and scarcely a drop of pedal, letting the fingers do the work. Similar control and refinement on Dariescu’s part ideally suit No 7’s deceptively simple melody/inner-voice/bass-line texture; her convincingly understated interpretation makes this prelude sound like one of Fauré’s songs, minus the words. The final prelude represents Fauré’s idiom distilled to its essence, without a trace of artifice. Here I find Dariescu’s plain-spoken pianism appropriate, yet a trifle reticent and bland when measured alongside Germaine Thyssens-Valentin’s firmer linear contours (Testament).
Perhaps Messiaen’s early Préludes provide a more variegated canvas for Dariescu’s sensitivity and ear for colour to flourish, which is why her leisurely pacing of ‘Chant d’extase dans un paysage triste’ doesn’t drag. In ‘Les sons impalpables du rêve’ Dariescu’s left hand sets the agenda, with the animated right-hand chords less to the fore than in Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s hands (DG, 11/08). But No 6’s chiming chord climaxes sit rather squarely here, whereas Yvonne Loriod (Decca) and Peter Hill (Delphian, 12/14) keep them moving and resonating. A fine disc overall, especially considering Matthew Bennett’s excellent production values and Jessica Duchen’s stylish and informative annotations.