This single CD collects most of the solo piano music by the turn-of-the-century French composer Paul Dukas (1865-1935). Highly self-critical, Dukas released only a fraction of his compositions to the public, the most famous being "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Dukas' two big completed piano compositions date from the time of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", the 45-minute long Piano Sonata from 1901 and the Variations, Interlude and Finale on a theme by Rameau from 1902. Hubeau also includes two shorter works, a Prelude eligiaque from 1906 and "La plainte" from 1920, a memorial for Claude Debussy. Not included are two shorter pieces from Dukas' largely compositionally barren later years (an Allegro and a Modere).
Hubeau is a very good pianist with an established reputation in France. His interpretation of the massive and extremely difficult Sonata I think is clearly superior to John Ogdon's version from the 1980s. In general, he plays effectively and with sensitivity, the one blemish being an under-practiced 5th variation in the Rameau set (track 9), but I enjoyed the playing overall and think the disc is worthwhile. I tend to ignore throwaways like the Prelude (track 18) and "La plainte" (track 19), which are often written to fulfill a request rather than out of inspiration, but actually enjoyed both attractive pieces here. The reason I have downgraded the recording to 4 stars is that I frankly don't think the Sonata is a success as a composition. After a pretty strong opening allegro - excitingly played by Hubeau - the rest of work is patchy and wandering, as if Dukas had set an objective of writing music of a particular length rather than having anything to say. If you are curious about this work, the Hubeau is a good place to start. I had also read high praise for the Rameau Variations and will say that I think it is a fine work, with the Interlude (track 16) particularly grabbing me. Recorded sonics are good. A mostly successful overall release.