Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Liszt,Scriabin
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
ALBUM TITLE: Jean-Marc Luisada
WORKS: Piano Sonatas
PERFORMER: Jean-Marc Luisada
CATALOGUE NO: 82876 64561 2
These are unabashedly full-blooded

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readings of this ultra-Romantic

repertoire, but on the whole

admirable ones. However strongly

Jean-Marc Luisada piles on the

flamboyant rhetoric, one never feels

he is carried away by his own heroic

eloquence: he’s always intellectually,

as well as technically, firmly in

control. In the Liszt B minor Sonata

he has gone back to the manuscript to correct a few details. I have lost

count of the number of Liszt Sonatas

I’ve heard in recent years that have

been high on virtuosic bluster but

essentially empty: Luisada grips

the attention from first to last bar,

the fugue a controlled torrent, the

ebbing-away of life and energy in

the final pages beautifully judged.

Among current rivals, I feel, only

Mikhail Pletnev’s magisterial

interpretation is clearly superior to

this excellent performance.

The Chopin B minor is even more

persuasive, invested throughout with

intense feeling but respecting at every

point the majesty and sturdiness of

the underlying architecture. The

fluidity and flexibility with which

Luisada phrases the melodic lines

in the first movement convey a

sense of utter spontaneity yet never

lose contact with the rhythmic

pulse. It’s a reading to be compared

with Rubinstein’s classic account,

though in the final analysis I think

Rubinstein still bears the palm

for his responsiveness to the sheer poetry of Chopin’s thought. And

the Scriabin is as haunted and darkly

visionary as one has ever heard

it – save perhaps in Horowitz’s

legendary 1956 version. Thus in

no single work do I feel Luisada

quite creates a new benchmark,

and yet overall the quality of his

pianism and his total emotional and intellectual commitment add

up to a very impressive disc indeed

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– beautifully recorded, too. Calum Macdonald