On paper, a magnificent
recital. Two B minor sonatas that are
mainstays of the Romantic repertoire
and some late Scriabin to show one direction
that late-Romanticism went in. The E
major Etude is placed right at the end,
as an ‘encore’. To do it justice, Luisada
has to be some kind of pianist.
In the event, he is
merely a good one, and that is clearly
not enough when works of this stature
are concerned. The Chopin reveals a
pianist who can be harsh at times, who
suddenly grasps notes and who can over-project
his treble. On the other hand, he can
be playful and has clearly thought his
interpretation through. The question
remains just how involving the results
are. Not much in the first movement,
which despite Luisada’s careful preparation
remains playing that is not yet fully
mature. That Luisada has no technical
problems is evinced by the Scherzo -
which is actually musically more involving,
too. Of all four movements it is the
finale that poses huge interpretative
challenges. It can all too easily run
out of steam, and unfortunately that
is precisely the case here. Rapid descending
scales are carefully rendered for the
microphone, and the world of the ponderous
is never too far away.
The Liszt B minor is
the stuff of pianists’ nightmares, of
course. The opening raises the question
of whether it is grand or merely more
ponderous playing. Liszt’s numerous
flighty passages provide the answer
– they never really take off. Luisada’s
presumed intention of emphasising the
‘black’ part of Liszt’s persona - by
emphasising the lower register writing
- is well intentioned but does not succeed
in the same way as Pollini on DG memorably
It is interesting to
hear Luisada try to rise to ecstatic
heights - he clearly knows what he is
meant to do and one can hear him trying.
But it is disappointing to hear him
fail, and the more ‘mystical’ passages
can degenerate into the merely narcissistic.
It is almost as if Luisada is preening
himself at these more magical points.
thought processes led him to create
a sound-world that is his and his alone.
The ‘Black Mass’ sonata is a huge challenge.
As in late Beethoven, trills cease to
be decorative and take on an inner life,
a vibrancy, all their own. Luisada unfortunately
underplays this. It is, of course, good
to have this at all, but again the sad
fact is that Luisada sits on the surface
of the music. In Scriabin this is a
crime more than almost anywhere else.
The encore is frankly
half-hearted. Luisada almost gets stuck
on the initial anacrusis, his rubato
tends towards the forced and the more
animated middle section is lacklustre.
When I first saw this
disc, I was really excited. A fascinating
programme, maybe well-recorded, hopefully
well played, were my initial reactions
before disc met player. Fascinating
programme, yes, but the other two hopes
were well and truly dashed.