Schumann/Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor; Piano Concerto in A minor

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COMPOSERS: Schumann/Grieg
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A minor; Piano Concerto in A minor
PERFORMER: Jean-Marc Luisada (piano)LSO/Michael Tilson Thomas
It takes a performer of exceptional qualities to breathe new life into these two over-familiar piano concertos. But Jean-Marc Luisada has the necessary musical intelligence and range of tonal colouring to do just this. There’s nothing remotely idiosyncratic about his approach, but Luisada always remains alive to the poetic qualities of the music. The slower episode of the first movement of the Schumann is exceptionally atmospheric, with some sensitive chamber music-like interplay between the piano and the clarinet. Yet Luisada is also capable of strongly heroic playing, witness his powerful articulation of the main theme of the finale. Only occasionally did I sense an element of over-cautiousness about the performance, especially in the development section of the first movement, where there could have been a greater degree of impetuosity from Luisada. On the other hand, such restraint proves beneficial in the cadenza of the first movement of the Grieg – a passage which in the wrong hands can so easily degenerate into bathos. Throughout both concertos Tilson Thomas and the LSO provide vital accompaniments, although it’s a pity that synchronisation between the piano and bassoon in the return of the second idea in the Grieg’s first movement is not absolutely ideal. Eric Levi