Rachmaninov, Ravel

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov,Ravel
LABELS: NAIVE
WORKS: Études-tableaux, Op. 39/1 & 2 & Op. 33/2, 6 & 9; Sonatine; Miroirs
PERFORMER: Lise de la Salle (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 4936
Lise de la Salle was all of 14 when she recorded this disc last September. I have heard a number of 14-year-olds who appear capable of playing almost anything, not only with technical assurance but also with a mature artistic sense. This girl is certainly one, at least in the two composers of whom she is especially fond (according to the booklet notes). Recorded quite close, but with a rich sound, she is also a powerful player. Sometimes her energy gets the better of her judgement, so that the notes forming inner filling, or texture, at the start of Ravel’s Sonatine are a bit too intrusive, and the moths in the first piece of Miroirs almost seem to have wings of metal.

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We would never expect a composer of this age to be original, but what about a pianist? Let’s put it this way: Lise de la Salle doesn’t do anything revelatory, though Geneviève Joy-Dutilleux declares that ‘as soon as she receives a suggestion it is understood, assimilated, then immediately improved on’. I sense a rather close-up view of many of the pieces here, as if she isn’t yet free to make them her own.

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She might do worse than listen to the exquisite recording of Ravel’s Sonatine by Valerie Tryon, who studied with Jacques Février and shows the present-day French the neglected art of ‘jeu perlé’. Tryon is impeccably stylish, too, in Miroirs, though for vivid imagery, I would recommend Eric Himy. Adrian Jack