Lise De La Salle, “Bach Unlimited” = Works by—and inspired by—J.S. BACH: Composers included BUSONI, POULENC, ROUSSEL, LISZT [Composition List Below] – Naïve Records V5444, 60:32, (11/03/17) ***1/2:
A bit eclectic and very impressive!
I do not profess to be an expert in piano playing nor in the current repertoire. I have heard plenty however and have worked with plenty of very fine pianists to know quality when I hear it and I cannot imagine that anyone would not be quite taken by the artistry of the young French virtuoso, Lise De La Salle.
This is a cleverly eclectic but carefully assembled program of music by Johann Sebastien Bach and composers whose music pays homage to Bach; in whose music Ms. De La Salle is a bit of a specialist. So, it is not a surprise that her performances of the Italian Concerto and the Busoni transcription of the Chaconne in D minor for violin are just sublime.
What I found most interesting and attractive about this album are the works by other composers who “channel” the master a bit. For Poulenc and Liszt the motive of their characteristically unique works comes from the name ‘Bach’ itself and the notes implicit within; a B-flat, A, C and B-natural (using the German ‘H’ which distinguishes the B-flat from the leading tone) Both of these works are purely and unabashedly homage and, of course, sound more like Poulenc and Liszt respectively but are charming works to be sure.
Similarly, the structure of Albert Roussel’s Prelude and Fugue uses the same format as the Baroque prelude and fugue which Bach turned into his own signature. While Roussel’s iteration comes across as ‘French’ there is an undeniable “Bachian” flavor and sound throughout.
The three short works by fellow pianist and composer Thomas Enhco serve as little ‘breaks’ or interludes in between the longer benchmark works on the program. Enhco joins Lise De La Salle in fact on his own Sur La Route for piano, four hands. Enhco is clearly a fine pianist in his own right and, according to the interview notes by Lise, a player with a jazz pedigree as well; that shows through, especially in his harmonies. These works serve their purpose quite well and are enjoyable but, of course, the real reason to check out this wonderful thematic recital is that of De La Salle’s performances – for me, the Roussel and the Liszt are highlights!
Honestly, there is nothing to dislike about this wonderful piano recital with this gifted artist. Ms. De La Salle has performed with some of the world’s great orchestras in concerto repertoire and I think all aspiring concert pianists should investigate her artistry and sense of programming. Very nice indeed!
J.S. BACH: ‘Italian’ Concerto in F major
J.S. BACH/FERRUCCIO BUSONI: Chaconne in D minor
THOMAS ENHCO: Chant Nocturne; Sur la route; La question de l’Ange; L’aube Nous Verra;
FRANCIS POULENC: Valse Improvisation sur la nom de Bach
ALBERT ROUSSEL: Prelude et Fugue
FRANZ LISZT: Fantasie and Fugue on the theme B-A-C-H