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Lise De La Salle Review- Interview with a profound pianist

By Debra Davy

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The internationally acclaimed French-born piano virtuoso, Lise De La Salle, 27, will appear at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., at 3 PM on Sunday, March 6, 2016, as part of the Symphony Center Presents PowerShares QQQ Piano series. She’ll be presenting a strong program of Bach, Ravel and a lot of Liszt, a composer whose works she’s often showcased in her recordings for Naïve and in her already vast repertoire of performances around the world. Much has been written about her unusual strength and maturity, and about her early fame- in 2005, at the age of 16, Gramaphone Magazine dubbed her Bach/Liszt recording “album of the month”. On the heels of the success of her newest release, live recordings taken from her 2013-2015 Artist in Residence with the Opernhaus Zurich, an all-Rachmaninoff album with the Philharmonia Zurich led by General Music Director Fabio Luisi, this reviewer interviewed De La Salle.This deeply thoughtful artist offered a generous outpouring of well-put remarks about her life, her work and her future goals.

Lise De La Salle; photo courtesy of Lynn Goldsmith

She began to play the piano at 4. There was never a time when she” realized” that music was a part of her spirit- it was obvious from the very beginning. She fell in love with the instrument and with music itself, and when asked as a child what she wanted to “be”, she always replied, “A pianist”. It was later that she began to grasp what this dedication would require from her and the clarity of the presence of music in her life became apparent.

She agreed that her training was similar to that of a ballerina or an athlete. The development of the skills required takes a great deal of time and is physically strenuous and demanding; it shaped and challenged her body as she grew. The hours of sitting at the piano focused and strengthened her mind as well. It takes time to build technique. While the position of a pianist on the bench does not appear as awkward as does that of a violinist, it requires the engagement of all the muscles of the body. One must learn to breathe properly; one has injuries. To sustain oneself as a vehicle for the music requires care and attention. However, the most important requirement is mental strength. “We are always learning, every day. It takes a lot of time to find your own way to work, to operate in different ways, to know what you need”, she said.

 She has learned enormously in the fifteen years since her first concert performance on-stage at 12, about “herself, her practice and how things work”. Each thing she learns and comes to understand about music leads to “a bright open door for the next thing to learn”. The life of a performing artist is filled with grace and rewards, but it is not an easy life-the practice, the rehearsal, the travelling, the missing of your loved ones, the demands of the art, “Like any other life, when you have a goal and you try to reach higher all the time”. She mused that perfection is impossible, but still she has the dream of reaching it. When she listens to her work from 15 years ago, she is not ashamed of it, despite how far she has come since then. She hopes to feel the same way fifteen years hence, and to have experienced the same joy and magical connection with the audience, which gives her so much. She wants to continue to make people happy, to devastate them, to touch them.

Lise De La Salle; photo courtesy of Stephane Gallois for Vanity Fair

The remarks above demonstrate an enormous sensitivity and genuine sensibility; the recordings and reviews of her work reflect an accomplished artist with a rare and precious gift, an innate and incandescent musicality coupled with overwhelming technical mastery.

We urge everyone to get tickets for this pianist who has been called “the most exciting young artist in classical music right now”. She chose the pieces for next Sunday, and calls it “a very strong program…a musical journey”. To take that journey with Lise De La Salle, and for tickets for the other great upcoming concerts in the series, go to cso.org.






Published on Feb 28, 2016

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