Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Historical: focal Lisztonia with Clément Doucet

If you haven't yet come across Clément Doucet, meet him now. The pianist-creator of such pieces as 'Chopinata' and 'Isoldina' has been taken up and championed gorgeously by the likes of Marc-André Hamelin and Alexandre Tharaud, but his own recordings are stunners in no uncertain terms. I've just come across a few of Doucet's pieces that are new to me. This first one is variously known as 'Hungaria' or, apparently, 'Lisztonia'...

And if you liked that, try this...

Doucet was born in Belgium in 1895 and studied with Arthur De Greef, who had been a pupil of Liszt. He went to New York for three years in 1920 and absorbed stride piano - as you can hear - and on his return to Europe succeeded Jean Wiéner as house pianist at the Paris cabaret Le Boeuf sur le toit (after which the Milhaud ballet is named). He and Wiéner formed a piano duo and gave more than 2000 performances together between 1924 and 1939 and worked with some of the most popular French singers of their era, including Edith Piaf and Jean Sablon.

But after the war it was Wiéner who had the career. Doucet died of chronic alcoholism in 1950. I am now trying to find out what had happened to them both in the intervening years.

One more recording. They were not jazz pianists alone. Just listen to this heavenly Bach.