BMG France has released about forty 2-CD sets
devoted to various artists and musical programs under the Artistes
+ Repertoires banner. Jean-Marc Luisada is the latest artist to
be featured. He has had a few recordings for Deutsche Grammophon
including the complete Mazurkas of Chopin and Goyescas by Granados.
In the U.S., Luisada has little fame, as his recordings donít
often reach our shores [DS lives
in the USA - LM].
Although I anticipated some fine performances
on this new set, I never dreamt that I would be so impressed with
Luisadaís Chopin playing. To begin with, Luisada possesses pinpoint
articulation; no matter how softly he plays, each note rings out
with conviction. Second, each of his Chopin performances exhibits
a strong sense of improvisation, as he gives me the impression
that heís thinking out his strategy as he plays. Third, Luisada
is a rich-sounding pianist with gorgeous sonority.
As compelling as the above features are, the
most stunning aspect of his artistry is his exploratory approach
to Chopin. He uses every phrase to probe into Chopinís sound-world
and psyche, also displaying a total command of the keyboardís
Of course, no pianist can deliver everything,
and Luisada does not offer the maximum degree of drive that is
invested in much of Chopinís solo piano music. As an example,
Adam Harasiewicz on Philips conveys a tremendous degree of surging
momentum to the Fantaisie in F minor. In contrast, Luisada pays
little attention to momentum, preferring to explore every nuance
down to its core. It makes for a longer but no less striking performance.
The Mazurka in A minor may well be the highlight of Disc 2 which
has the Chopin solos. Luisada invests the music with a gorgeous
melancholy that digs deeply into the listenerís bloodstream. Another
incisive interpretation is the Prelude in A minor where he unleashes
its savage energy with a vengeance.
Disc 1 presents a relatively unusual program
consisting of Bizet piano music and the Piano and String Quintet
arrangement of Chopinís Concerto in E minor. Naturally, Chopinís
Concerto canít possibly have the same degree of power in its chamber
version, but offsetting benefits of intimacy and insight into
the human condition are abundant as are the workís rapture, urgency,
and tension. This is an outstanding performance that surpasses
the fine recording of the work by the Yggdrasil Quartet on BIS
with Fumiko Shiraga on piano.
I have mixed feelings about the inclusion of
the Bizet pieces. Although pleasant and well constructed, they
donít hold a candle to Chopinís music for piano. "Chants
du Rhin" consists of six portraits of the landscape of the
Rhine, each revealing a limited range of expression. On the other
hand, the music does tend to have a mesmerizing flow and recordings
are few in number.
Summing up, Luisada offers highly individualized
performances of Chopinís music that are essential additions to
oneís music library. Intimacy, exploration, improvisation and
articulation are the key ingredients that Luisada employs to greater
advantage than Iíve ever heard in past Chopin recordings. This
is one of the great Chopin recordings, and I urge all readers
to seek out the set.