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Indian-born French pianist Jean-Rodolphe Kars made remarkable recordings for Decca of Debussy’s Préludes Book I and the Fantaisie for piano and orchestra. His 1976 interpretation of Messiaen’s monumental Vingt regards includes some of the finest Messiaen on record, Kars’ reading rivalling Aimard’s classic take. Kars paces each movement with great consideration, finding stasis where appropriate but exuding dynamism (try ‘Regard de l’Esprit de joie’). Perhaps his terrific ‘Le baiser de l’Enfant- Jésus’ sums up his magnificence, exuding calm while also projecting the individuality of the composer’s sound-world.

The recording might not have the presence of more modern technology but Kars’ energy and mystical grasp convince fully nonetheless. The excellent booklet notes admit to an omitted line in one movement, ‘Par Lui tout a été fait’; nevertheless, this disc is unmissable.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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