TROY — French pianist Lise de la Salle’s scarlet gown matched her electrifying playing Wednesday night in her debut on the Troy Chromatic Concerts series at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
De la Salle, who is 26, has been winning awards since she was 14. It was therefore no surprise that despite her virtuosic and varied program by Beethoven, Ligeti and Brahms, she showed she does everything well. Besides plumbing the depths of each piece to find the subtlest of nuances, her technique is so fluid and even that she skips as lightly over the keys as a skater on ice. Her range of dynamics was equally impressive as it could shift from one beat to the next. De la Salle took special pleasure when it came to playing loudly as she put a fiery edge to all her fingerwork and fervent accents to emphasize certain rhythms or themes.
The first half belonged to Beethoven: Sonata in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3 and Sonata in C minor, Op. 111, No. 32. In the C Major, de la Salle was exuberant and bold with each phrase clearly sculpted in the opening movement. The second movement was beautifully paced, singing, sweet and mysterious before it erupted into dramatic declamatory chords. She was daring and forceful in the third and buoyantly frothy in the forth with effortless left hand octaves and some sizzling technical passages. Beethoven’s wealth of ideas in the C minor sonata were spread over two very challenging movements. De la Salle explored with an intense brilliance that never slackened. She made it all make sense. It was an amazing performance.
Three selections from Gyorgy Ligeti’s Etudes were enigmatic, startling, and hugely difficult. De la Salle seemed casual in No. 4 “Fanfares” as she sped up and down the keyboard in running scales with offbeat rhythms and flashes of dynamics. In No. 2 “Cordes a vide,” she played the dreamlike, smudged pastel tones with finesse. In No. 13 “L’escalier du diable” with its speedy runs over the entire keyboard mixed with chordal sections, she was flamboyant and explosive.
Brahms’ “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24” tested in other ways as each of the 25 variations was different. She handled all with style, intelligence and great skill. The fugue was sensational and the crowd jumped to its feet with loud applause.