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. Here's your disc of the week for April 28, 2013.
Artist: David Fray, piano.
Repertoire: Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita No. 2 in C minor, Toccata in C minor and Partita No. 6 in E minor.
Label: Virgin Classics.
Looking like a long-lost member of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, David Fray gazes from the cover of his latest CD with an ethereal, even angelic air. Yet when he gets in front of a piano, Fray sits hunched at the keyboard, frowning and intense, his face buried in the ivories as though channeling the ghost of Glenn Gould.
The 31-year-old French pianist, who took second prize at the Montreal International Music Competition in 2004, is among the most original young performers on the concert circuit these days, but one who clearly divides the critics. The Chicago Tribune calls him "curiously inhibited" while the New York Times positively swooned over his Carnegie Hall debut, saying he played Schubert "with such aching delicacy that the music seemed almost too sad to speak."
As far as I'm concerned, this contemplative approach to the keyboard is perfect for the repertoire on his latest CD: two Partitas and a Toccata by J.S. Bach. Fray is thoughtful without ever becoming precious and captures the lyrical bounce of the dance-based Partitas and the grand architecture of the Toccata with true grace.
Despite a rather swimmy sound (the CD was recorded in the cavernous Notre-Dame du Liban Church in Paris), Fray brings a welcome intimacy to these performances, and proves himself to be a thoughtful young musician with a fresh approach to these centuries-old keyboard masterworks.
Here's a preview video:
Listen: Bach's Mass in B Minor recorded in Toronto
Watch: Louis Lortie and Helene Mercier play Mozart, Schubert, Ravel
Recital: Joshua Hopkins and Michael Jarvis perform Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann
on Apr 27, 2013