Rondo in A minor, K511
Sonata in D, K284
Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman’, K265
Sonata No.3 in D minor, Op.28
10 Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Op.75 [transcribed by the composer: selection]
Lise de la Salle (piano)
Recorded November 2006 in Studio Tibor-Varga, Sion, Switzerland
Also included is a DVD, “Lise de la Salle, Majeure!”, a film by Jean-Philippe Perrot
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: August 2007
CD No: NAÏVE V 5080 (2 CDs)
Duration: CDs 1 hour 31 minutes
DVD 25 minutes
A somewhat odd coupling of composers, Mozart and Prokofiev, albeit based on Lise de la Salle’s recital programmes (these are studio recordings, however). With neither CD being particularly well filled, it is assumed that this release is offered at a ‘for one’ price.
The performances exude sensitivity and finely judged musicianship, which are very much Lise de la Salle’s hallmarks. The Mozart disc (51’25”) brings crisp renditions, the sound of the piano just a little sec; maybe de la Salle is approximating the sound of an ‘earlier’ instrument. The Rondo is given without affectation but without denuding its pathos. The Sonata has sparkle and youthful eagerness, but always tempered by poise, and the concluding set of Variations is deliciously characterised. The commentary on ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ (as English speakers better know the tune) is as delightfully light-hearted as they can be, but de la Salle is not afraid to show emotion and searching as the Variations find greater depths. Lise de la Salle expounds through the music rather than imposing upon it; her emotional core is exposed through the music itself.
The Prokofiev sequence (39’48”) begins with the Toccata, which is not pounded through but given with exemplary clarity and dynamism but no lack of drive. (There’s a suspect edit at 1’04”.) The single movement that is Sonata No.3 again shows de la Salle’s concern for articulation, long-term thinking and expressive shaping; and the ballet excerpts (six selections taken from the composer’s transcription of 10 numbers) reveal de la Salle’s ability to set-up a scene rather than writing it big as a gaudy display. In treating the Romeo and Juliet pieces more as studies than descriptive dances, with superb playing, de la Salle invests the music as having programmatic potential rather than being overtly dramatic. Her playing of ‘Romeo bids Juliet farewell’ leaves no doubt as to her sympathy for the music and that her feeling for it comes innately – somehow we have journeyed full-circle to the subtle premonitions of Mozart’s Rondo.
Beautifully recorded, this release shows what a fine and genuine artist Lise de la Salle is; she also writes the booklet note.
The second disc is a CD on one side and a DVD on the other. The latter is a well-made 25-minute film about Lise de la Salle and includes an interview with her, her teacher and her mother; there are also recital, rehearsal and recording-session sequences with music by Chopin, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov, Lawrence Foster and Semyon Bychkov conducting. It’s a gentle and intimate film that seems particularly apposite to Lise de la Salle’s ‘girl next door’ character. She can certainly be counted as one of the most promising and discriminating of the younger generation of pianists.