Record releases: Thomas Valverde, Paul Weller and Schubert

An airy piano, sweet soul and a solar octet

Published today at 2:05 p.m.

Padded mechanics

Piano At first listen, “Polka” by Thomas Valverde could pass for this hushed, repetitive and inoffensive music that populates playlists classified as “relaxation”. A frieze of consonant arpeggios wrapped in cotton wool, smelling of homage to Satie and Philip Glass. But if you listen carefully, you can hear in each room imperceptible sounds of the piano’s mechanics, the pedal movements, perhaps breathing, and some John Cage-style tinkering with the strings.

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Alternating concert pianos and upright pianos, the pianist, composer and artistic director of the Biarritz piano festival brings to his pieces a sonic palette of great variety, with some masterful outbursts. An artist who records at the La Fabrique des ondes studio could only be invited to the Les Ondes de Monthey festival (June 1, lesondes.ch). (MCH)

Custard

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Rock Paul Weller is only sober in his titles: “66”, because the ex-Jam is celebrating his birthday this weekend and is releasing a record for the occasion – the only point in common with Lenny Kravitz, by the way. In short: prolific as hell, the man with the straightest hair in the United Kingdom flatters his soul with the help of a few friends, including Noel Gallagher and Suggs, the singer of Madness.

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Revered on his island for having embodied the mod spirit to the point of caricature, Weller never got rid of a certain sense of showoff bordering on bad taste. We find them here, generally when the singer dreams of himself in Las Vegas as sub-Barry Manilow – the awful “Flying Fish”. Fortunately, we savor more nuggets, when Weller reduces the sail (“Ship of Fools”), rediscovers the vintage elegance of the Style Council (“My Best Friend’s Coat”) or grabs a glam-tinged rock (“Soul Wandering”). A good birthday cake once the excess whipped cream has been blown away. (FBA)

“66”, Paul Weller, Universal Music

Schubert at eight

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Classic All the excellence of “made in Berlin” concentrated in a small ensemble and in a single work. With this recording, the Berlin Philharmonic offers a summary of its art, placing violins, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, horn and bassoon in the service of Schubert’s emblematic “Octet”. A piece crossed by flights of firm lyricism, beaches with deliciously pastel complexions – an “Adagio” that we savor without ever tiring – and captivating themes.

This small cathedral, ample and sinuous at the same time, regains all its richness and beauty with the German dream team. The wind lines are drawn to perfection, the bows are displayed with stunning homogeneity and the expressive features thus acquire all their relief, with sustained but never excessive dynamics. In short, a version to be placed among the references. (RZA)

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