Here's your classical disc of the week for Dec. 8, 2013. Each week CBC Radio 2's In Concert looks at new classical music releases and selects one recording that you'll want to know about.
Artist: Cédric Tiberghien, piano, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conductor by Andrew Manze
Repertoire: Works for piano and orchestra by Théodore Dubois
If you've ever heard the music of the 19th century French composer Théodore Dubois — and chances are pretty good that you haven't — it was probably after stumbling into a choir practice at a crumbling church in rural France. Dubois (1837-1924) was a big deal back in his day, but his reputation in the 21st Century largely rests on a substantive output of sturdy sacred music for choir and organ.
Lucky thing, then, that the brilliant, young Paris-based pianist Cédric Tiberghien has come along to show another side of his artistry.
Pianist Cédric Tiberghien performs the 4th movement of Dubois' Piano Concerto No. 2.
Tiberghien, accompanied by the sure-footed BBC Scottish Symphony under the direction of Andrew Manze, has just released a disc devoted to Dubois' works for piano and orchestra and it's absolutely charming. Part of a series from Hyperion Records focused on piano concertos from the romantic age, this CD contains three works spanning Dubois' long career as a composer — a delightful Concerto-capriccioso in C minor from 1876, the lyrical Piano Concerto No. 2 from 1897 and the sizzling Suite for Piano and String Orchestra from 1917.
Dubois had a significant career as a composer and, perhaps more importantly, as a teacher at the Paris Conservatory. Although his heart's desire was to become a successful creator of light-hearted operas, he was probably best known for writing weighty treatises on music theory that are still used today. Perhaps his reputation for academic rigour and intellectual heft affected his popular appeal.
In any case, his music is full of charm and insouciant sparkle. But what keeps it appealing is the very thing what led to Dubois' being categorized as a musical fuddy-duddy: masterful engineering and painstaking craft.
Tiberghien brings an equal amount of brilliance and verve to these performances, and the combination is irresistible.
As Dubois once wrote in his diary: "I don't know if I'm wrong, but I feel quite sure that if later on, after I'm gone, [and my works] come to the attention of unprejudiced musicians and critics, there will be a backlash in my favour! ... People are bound to find enough good things among all I leave behind me to do me some degree of justice!"