Julie Amacher, Classical MPR
Jean-Yves Thibaudet – Carte Blanche (Decca)
French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet celebrated his 60th birthday with a trip to Hawaii in September. He also marked the occasion with the release of his new recording, Carte Blanche.
“This was an album where I was given literally carte blanche,” Thibaudet said. “I could choose whatever. It might not have happened without the pandemic, and I did it with the greatest love and joy. I had such a good time doing it. The variety and choice of pieces on this album shows my personality.”
The recording opens with the suite from Pride and Prejudice, and it features important moments. How did you decide which ones to highlight?
“This is something I did with Dario Marianelli. He is an extraordinary composer, and that score is very important and special in my life. That is why I wanted it not only to be on the record, but also start it.
“That piece has opened many doors in my life. It has reached so many people in the world, and I cannot tell you how many people still go to my concerts because of it. I also have people coming to me at the end of the concert to say hi and tell me that that was their first concert. They would say, ‘I just came because I saw your name and your the guy from Pride and Prejudice. I love that score so much.’”
Why did you choose The Lady and the Nightingale, by Enrique Granados, to honor Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha?
“She owned that repertoire completely. It's such beautiful music. The chords are so wonderful. I love the effects of trills mimicking birds. I think it’s really beautiful and fun to play. I had to do something from Larrocha because I have such great admiration for her.”
Did you dedicate a piece to Renée Fleming?
“My playing is in honor of her, because I've learned so much as a an artist from Fleming. It has been the greatest lesson playing with all the other wonderful singers. She has beautiful control of breathing, the legato and of phrasing.
“There is a little story to one of the pieces — my transcription of ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ from Disney's Pinocchio. We actually did a PBS program for New Year's Eve, United in Song: The Resilience of American People. She chose to do ‘When You Wish Upon a Star,’ which has the most touching and beautiful theme.
“I just adore that piece so much. I was thinking, ‘God, I need to play it just for my own pleasure.’ I started incorporating, yet again, the singing line into the piano. I was making progress and I finally came up with the arrangement on this album. It gave me so much joy that I wanted to share it, and that certainly is a special gift for Fleming.”
To hear the rest of my conversation, download the extended podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts