Etudes-tableaux – Opp.33 & 39 [selection]
Lise de la Salle (piano)
Recorded in September 2002 in Studio Tibor Varga, Sion, Switzerland
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: June 2003
CD No: NAÏVE V 4936
Although in her early teens, Lise de la Salle has to be regarded as already a mature artist. One always guards against sweeping statements; however, such is the poise, polish and insight of de la Salle’s playing (recorded when she was 14) that this CD is far more than a calling card.
The first track immediately grabs the listener – the C minor Etude-tableau (Op.39/1) is explicit in terms of Rachmaninov’s temperament – scorched earth volatility, the music driven, rhythms fantastically chiselled. The A minor (Op.39/2) is hauntingly done – distilled, personal and introspective. The three from Op.33 (Nos.6, 2 & 9, E flat minor, C minor, C sharp minor) have, respectively, that powerful shimmer, sense of narrative, and saturnine rhetoric that one recognises as being true to their creator. To this music Lise de la Salle brings resoluteness, toughness even, malleability and a soulful kinship.
Her absorption in these two composers, her close identification with them, has been pondered and nurtured. This is not just a youngster with phenomenal technical gifts. Lise de la Salle’s insightful renditions marry respect and imagination to an exceptional degree. Her concentration is palpable, and her range of colour and, especially, touch is very impressive. She has the measure of Rachmaninov’s volatility and pensiveness just as surely as she is inside the super-sensitive world or Ravel, his privacy, precision and pictorial imagination.
Ravel’s sadness and elegance are wonderfully detailed, the Sonatine crisp and eloquently touching. The glittering percussiveness of de la Salle’s playing, her magical stillness and ability to light the music from within, is ideal for Miroirs; encompassed comprehensively are the range of moods, with an intensity that is intrinsic to the music. Her sureness of approach is compelling. The best known pieces (certainly in the composer’s orchestrations) – Alborada del gracioso & Une barque sur l’Océan – are brought off with a vividness that serves the music; brittle and languorous in the former, and with subterranean danger in the latter.
The immediate and airy sound sets the seal on this being a prestigious debut.