Bach Unlimited Works by JS Bach, Poulenc, Busoni, Roussel, Liszt & Enhco
Lise de la Salle (piano)
Naïve V5444 55:15 mins
The fine idea underpinning this interesting album from Lise de la Salle is to follow the inspiration Bach has provided up to the present day, including rarities and new commissions. It’s a chance to hear not only long-established Bach-derived favourites like Busoni’s version of the Chaconne, but also Liszt’s more unusual Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H and some brief but rewarding works by Poulenc and Roussel.
If only De la Salle had explored new short pieces from several composers, rather than just one – Thomas Enhco. She explains in the booklet that she commissioned his Bach-inspired miniatures as interludes to provide musical breathing space. They are not inappropriate: one – arguably the best – is inspired by the Italian Concerto, another by the harmonies of the Goldberg Variations. But if you’re going to programme something beside Bach, it has to be exceptionally good; as it is, the slightly anodyne, contemporary ‘groove’ element in Enhco’s style is not always at ease in such company.
De la Salle’s playing sometimes sacrifices beauty of tone and potential moments of reflection on the altar of excitement and extrovert flair. Her strength and rapidity are, up to a point, impressive, but there’s much that is too fast, too loud and rather in-your-face. The Italian Concerto doesn’t come much more forthright than this and the Chaconne’s central section sometimes reaches bull-in-china-shop level.