Mozart¥Prokofiev

COMPOSERS: Mozart,Prokofiev
LABELS: NAIVE
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart,Prokofiev
WORKS: Sonata in D; 12 Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman’; Rondo in A minorPiano Sonata No. 3, Op. 28; Six Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 75; Toccata, Op. 11 Plus DVD ‘Lise de la Salle, majeure!
PERFORMER: Lise de la Salle (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 5080
French pianist Lise de la Salle’s strategy of juxtaposing music by two different composers on a single release, characteristic of her previous two solo albums, pays considerable dividends here. In theory there would seem to be very few obvious stylistic links between Mozart and Prokofiev. But if you scratch beneath the surface, the connections are more tangible, not least that both composers share similar objectives in trying to present their music with total clarity of form combined with

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a directness of expression.

Her vividly recorded programme is cleverly chosen so as to present the broadest possible representation of each composer’s style. So for Mozart the introspective melancholy of the A minor Rondo is followed by the most orchestrally conceived of his Piano Sonatas with the charming ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman’ Variations as an invigorating coda. Likewise, the relentless machine rhythms of Prokofiev’s Toccata provide an exciting prelude to the stormy but concise Third Sonata before we are plunged headlong into the theatrical intensity of the Romeo and Juliet piano transcriptions.

Although there are some exceptionally fine recordings of the Mozart pieces on the market from the likes of Mitsuko Uchida (Philips) and Ronald Brautigam (BIS), de la Salle delivers committed performances that take full account of the stylistic conventions of the period but never shirk from presenting an individual view of the music that can be unashamedly romantic in the Rondo and impetuous in the Sonata.

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De la Salle’s Prokofiev is even more convincing. She builds up a formidable head of steam in the Toccata achieving far more cumulative physical excitement than Boris Berman on Chandos, and the contrasting sections of the Third Sonata are just as imaginatively characterised. Although it’s a pity that only six of the Romeo and Juliet pieces feature here (not incidentally performed in the exact order as advertised in the booklet notes) de la Salle’s playing has bags of personality managing with a wonderful control of timbre to capture the very essence of the drama.Eric Levi