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Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Piano

- Classical and Cultural

Music Performance Reviews

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Piano
Carnegie Hall
Isaac Stern Auditorium
Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs


Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849): Nocturne in B-flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1(1830-32); Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2(1830-32); Etude in A-flat Major, Op. 25, No. 1(1835-37); Etude in F Major, Op. 25, No. 3 (1835-37); Grand Valse brillante in A Minor, Op. 34, No. 2(circa 1834); Grand Valse brillante in E-flat Major, Op. 18 (1831-32).

Franz Liszt (1811-1886): Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi sonata, from Années de pèlerinage, deuxième année: Italie, No. 7 (1849).

Eric Satie (1866-1925): Gnossienne No. 7 (1897); The Dreamy Fish (1901).

Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Three Etudes (1915); Three Preludes from Book I (1910); L’Isle joyeuse (1904).

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 16, 2004

Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs with orchestras (such as Toronto, Detroit, London Philharmonia, Munich Philharmonic, and Frankfurt Radio Symphony) and at many Music Festivals around the globe. Mr. Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, and his family is from France and Germany. His first piano studies were at the age of five, and he made his debut at age seven. Mr. Thibaudet has won many awards, including Young Concert Artists Auditions in NY, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres and the Premio Pegasus at the 2002 Spoleto Festival. (Carnegie Notes).

Seated in Stern Auditorium tonight, I remembered vividly the days of old, with Artur Rubenstein onstage serving up a menu of Chopin, like a delicious smorgasbord. Tonight, Jean-Yves Thibaudet did not pretend to be another Rubenstein, as his presentations of the Nocturnes were far more reserved and technically precise, and his posture and demeanor were much more cautious. However, the passion and romance of the Nocturnes, the playfulness of the Etudes (with the tiniest preview of the Satie tonalities and style), and the danceable evocations of each of the Grand Valses brillante, were all professionally and virtuosically interpreted by the very talented Mr. Thibaudet.

In fact, Mr. Thibaudet seemed to relax in his performance of the two Valses, and we could have been dancing in Vienna, with his engaging and elevating keyboard dynamism. The swirling Valses were spinning wheels of lively, but luxurious music. In the Liszt piece, about which I was not familiar, Mr. Thibaudet finally shared the emotionality and elegance of this program, and the audience was won over, as they were treated to a more driven and daring pianist, performing alone on such a daunting stage.

Satie’s Gnossienne No. 7 was more like a dancing rhythm than the earlier Gnossiennes, with which I am familiar. In fact, they were quite exotic, and I thought of Belly Dancers, masked and slithering, with hips undulating to this very hypnotic and repetitive rapture. The Dreamy Fish, according to program notes, evokes a fish dancing in a ballroom, with a dream-like image of legs, that occasionally return the fish to water. I found this piece to be impressionistic, with rippling effects and staccato surprises.

Satie was a contemporary of Debussy, and the three Debussy Etudes that followed were bubbling, esoteric, suspended in air, and, at the end, quite energetic. The Three Preludes were dynamic, vivacious, and somewhat dissonant. There were atonalities as well as musical punctuations. L’Isle joyeuse was fanciful and fluffy, like a pointillist painting, shimmering and replete with colorful imagery. Several encores followed this program, and Mr. Thibaudet was extremely well received. I would have liked to hear more of his jazz interpretations, such as those of Bill Evans’ music, which Mr. Thibaudet has recorded and often performs at the end of his concerts. I would also liked to have heard more of Satie, whose music is all too rare on today’s concert stages.

Kudos to Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and kudos to Carnegie Hall for this wonderful solo concert. (Yefim Bronfman was to have performed, but cancelled due to illness).

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at