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Alexandre Tharaud’s new Virgin Classics album Le Bœuf sur le Toit is a 26-track evocation of ‘Swinging Paris’ built around arrangements or compositions by Clément Doucet and Jean Wiéner (who between them contribute 12 pieces, including four joint arrangements for two pianos). Doucet’s Chopinata is a fun foxtrot based on Chopin themes as is his Liszt skit, Hungaria. However, Isoldina trivialises its Wagnerian material, showing poor musical judgment. Milhaud’s title-track appears only by virtue of the extracted Tango des Fratellini (its most famous passage, for sure) as does Caramel mou, one of several tracks to include guest performers: here tenor Jean Delescluse. An ethereal-sounding Natalie Dessay turns up in Wiéner’s Blues chanté and Madeleine Peyroux gives a mannered and tedious rendition of Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It. Tharaud’s playing, when the music gives him anything interesting to do – as in the Gershwin songs – compels attention; otherwise this is no more than frothy wallpaper music, pleasant enough in a hotel bar, but I could not wait to return to Debussy, Schubert and Tcherepnin.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing