Mathieu: Concerto No. 4. Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 / Jean-Philippe Sylvestre, piano. Orchestre Métropolitain, Alain Trudel, conductor / ATMA Classique ACD2 2768
Mathieu’s posthumous Concerto No. 4 owes much to Gilles Bellemare, who, from fragmentary sources, reconstructed and orchestrated this post romantic gem while seeking to reproduce the composer’s vision faithfully. Under Alain Trudel’s blazing baton, the piece charges forward like a locomotive, paying no heed to the superfluous or stopping stations along the way. Pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre navigates the piece with remarkable ease, in his element performing a work after his own heart. His straightforward, linear performance, devoid of rubato, allows for an almost immediate comprehension of the phrases and structures, and he adds occasional moments of irony and hints of madness which add to the work’s bite.
The pairing with Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a judicious choice which highlights an obvious filial relationship between the composers. Despite a sound recording that does not do justice to the excellence of the performers, this album and its fine booklet put on display a jewel of Quebecois repertoire that we hope to see featured in programmes more often. www.atmaclassique.com