DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Album review: Jan Lisiecki can be proud of bold declaration in first solo album of Chopin Études

By John Terauds on April 23, 2013

(V. Tony Hauser photo)
(V. Tony Hauser photo)

There is a point in every young artist’s life when they have to cross the threshold from being the polite, attentive disciple to making a declaration of independence. Although this is Jan Lisiecki’s third commercial album, to me the complete Chopin Études launched this week by Deutsche Grammophon are that declaration.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

Yes, the now-18-year-old Lisiecki has been giving public concerts for about a decade. And, yes, his two previous albums — the Chopin piano concertos, recorded in Warsaw for the composer’s 200th anniversary in 2010, and two Mozart piano concertos for Detusche Grammophon last year — were very nice.

etudesBut the act of will necessary to prepare, shape and record both dozen Chopin studies from Op. 10 (from 1830) and Op. 25 (1835) is a much bolder statement. There is no orchestra surrounding the piano, no conductor to suggest (or demand) a particular flow.

It’s just the artist and his instrument — in this case the magnificent German-made Steinway at Toronto’s Koerner Hall.

If one could draw a character sketch of Lisiecki based on these 24 pieces, it would be of a carefully buttoned-down perfectionist who has calculated exactly when to loosen the knot on the tie, and when to tighten the slack back up.

It’s in the quieter Études, like Op. 10 No. 3 (“Tristesse”) and No. 6, where Lisiecki is the most restrained, keeping a steady, unaffected eye on the melodic line.

It’s where the big splashes of sound are needed that Lisiecki carefully lets the dynamics and the sense of momentum swell.

The Op. 25 set feels the most accomplished musically — and that’s saying a lot.

Chopin sets a specific technical challenge in each piece, whether it’s an act of accompanying a melody (central to Chopin’s music) or the physical mastery of specific note patterns, such as broken chords or runs or arpeggios or octaves. But the main challenge is not technical but musical — of making the heaps of back dots sound beautiful.

Lisiecki does, displaying an easy technique, an unaffected musicality and a determination to never let the weeds of broad theatricality invade the design of this impeccably manicured garden.

This album joins many, many others in the catalogue and, thanks to Lisiecki’s fastidious will tempered by a lyrical soul, deserves a place among the finer efforts.

For all the details on this album, click here.

Here’s a sample:

John Terauds

 

 

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

FEATURE | That Time When Toronto Was The Piano Building Capital Of The World

By Anya Wassenberg on October 25, 2018

Heintzman, Mason & Risch, Mendelssohn Piano Co., Newcombe Piano Co., Nordheimer, and Gourlay, Winter & Leeming, all major piano manufacturers in Toronto. Where did they all go?
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Ian Bostridge's Great War Themed Album Wrenches The Heart

By Norman Lebrecht on November 9, 2018

Themed albums are all the rage these days, but coming up with an idea that takes into to account timeliness is a rarity. Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano's "Requiem, the pity of war" captures the timelessness of the English landscape and the hopelessness of young men in the WWI trenches with this magical new release.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | American Evergreen: Helene Schneiderman in Recital

By Joseph So on October 25, 2018

One of the highlights of the COC Vocal Series in the still-young opera season happened yesterday, in the form of a recital given by American mezzo-soprano Helene Schneiderman.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.