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.

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Bruce Liu’s Debut DG Release Offers A Glimpse Of Where The Young Pianist Is Headed

By Norman Lebrecht on October 27, 2023

Bruce Liu (Image from the album cover, courtesy of DG)
Bruce Liu (Image from the album cover, courtesy of DG)

Bruce Liu: Waves (Deutsche Grammophon)


🎧 Spotify | Apple | Amazon

The content of this DG debut album by the 2021 Chopin Competitition winner is arrestingly original. It features three French composers from the last three centuries — the court opera composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), the Jewish misanthrope Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-88), and the Basque bachelor Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) — never knowingly conjoined in the same programme.

Despite a common mother tongue, the three masters speak different musical languages. Rameau writes with baroque playfulness for the harpsichord. Alkan strives to be more unplayable than Liszt. Ravel inhabits an oceanic loneliness, somewhere between impressionism and modernism. The combination, on paper, looks wildly exciting.

In performance,it is less so. Rameau on a modern concert grand (Fazioli?) is not the real Rameau but a hybrid harpsi-morbidity, resdesigned for movie scenes. His celebrated Gavotte loses its lovely courtliness, and Les Sauvages is far from aboriginal.

The two Alkan pieces here are the relatively unchallenging Barcarolle and Festin d’Esope, both made to sound Chopinesque rather than window-shattering. Only in Ravel’s Miroirs is the idiom perfect, but here the Beijing-born, Canada-reared Liu is up against giants on record — Ashkenazy, Richter, Gieseking, Cécile Ousset, Samson Francois, Thibaudet, Pierre-Laurent Aimard — unfair competition for a beginner.

If there were an award for a table of contents, this release would win hands down. Only in Alkan’s fabulous Festin does one get a glimpse of where Bruce Liu might be heading.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, subscribe to Slippedisc.com.


Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

Share this article
comments powered by Disqus


company logo

Part of

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy
© 2024 | Executive Producer Moses Znaimer