The extraordinary French pianist Lise de la Salle offered “Bach Unlimited,” her current signature solo recital program, conceived as a profound and shining tribute to the timeless genius of J.S. Bach. The concert begins with Bach’s Italian Concerto and moves through three centuries of great composers deeply inspired by Bach. Anchors are Liszt’s Fantasy & Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H and the Bach/Busoni Chaconne, interspersed with pithy shorter works: Roussel’s Prélude et Fugue, Poulenc’s Valse-improvisation sur le nom de B-A-C-H, Kempff’s arrangement of Bach’s Sicilienne in G Minor, and Liszt’s arrangement of Bach’s Prélude and Fugue in A Minor. Lise’s friend, composer Thomas Enhco contributed three brief works inspired by Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
The outstanding performance demonstrated not only Lise’s powerful virtuosity, but also her extreme delicacy and touching devotion to this music. She is capable of creating a tsunami of sound, yet courageous enough also to dare a barely heard pianississimo. Not a single passage or note is trivial — every scale, roulade, and arpeggio meaningful. Multiple lines and fast passage work are heard with astonishing clarity, while arching melodies unfold with sublime spaciousness. Lise de la Salle has it all, and the audience recognized it!