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Ludwig Van
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RECORD KEEPING | Pianist David Jalbert Dances His Way Through The Early 20th Century At The Keyboard

By John Terauds on October 28, 2017

David Jalbert
David Jalbert

David Jalbert. Stravinski Prokofiev. ATMA Classique. 58 min.

Ottawa-based pianist David Jalbert tackles formidable Russian ballet piano transcriptions in his latest album from Montreal label ATMA Classique, delivering crisp and poised interpretations that somehow belie the lack of a full orchestra. The nearly hour-long album features transcriptions from Igor Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Firebird, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

For sheer listening pleasure, the Prokofiev transcription is the place to go. Jalbert conveys all the sensuality of the music without ever wavering from its inherent forward momentum. There are many orchestral recordings available of this score, but lovers of piano music will appreciate how much Jalbert can accomplish with just two hands on the keyboard of the magnificent Hamburg Steinway at the Palais Montcalm in Quebec City.

Prokofiev, who composed at the piano, created his own transcriptions, which are not reductions of the orchestral score, but careful adaptations.

David Jalbert. Stravinski Prokofiev. ATMA Classique. 58 min.
David Jalbert. Stravinski Prokofiev. ATMA Classique. 58 min.

Igor Stravinsky thought of his piano reductions as rehearsal tools for the dance studio rather than as concert pieces. Italian pianist Guido Agosti took it upon himself in the 1930s to produce a little suite of music from The Firebird, made up of the Infernal Dance, Berceuse and Finale. It’s a rich, technically dazzling affair that Jalbert sets alight like a box of fireworks.

The album opens with Three Movements from Petrouchka, created by Stravinsky with the help of pianist Arthur Rubinstein. We get the Danse Russe, Chez Petrouchka and the Shrovetide Fair sequences augmented by the Bear’s Dance arranged by Jalbert himself in a way that fits seamlessly with Stravinsky’s own work.

On the whole, the album sparkles with virtuosity and impresses with the amount of musicality Jalbert brings to the task. Best of all, the pianist manages to capture the energy and excitement that Stravinsky’s music created in pre-World War I Paris.

David Jalbert. Stravinski Prokofiev (ATMA Classique) is available at amazon.ca and iTunes.

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John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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