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Reviews: Liaisons, Vol. 3 - Dejan Lazic

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Site review by Castor October 8, 2011
Performance:   Sonics:  
The ever inventive and exploratory mind of Dejan Lazic has once again led to the production of an unmissable SACD in the series of recordings for Channel Classics that he calls ‘Liaisons’. In this series (of which the disc under review is Vol.3) Lazic programmes the music of two apparently quite disparate composers and challenges us to listen with fresh ears to the various compositions involved. This idea might seem bizarre and fraught with difficulties, but such is the skill with which Lazic builds his programmes and the prodigious pianistic talent that he brings to the execution of them, the result is an unqualified triumph.

On this latest disc Lazic juxtaposes music originally written for the clavichord by Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, JS Bach’s second son, with the very few solo piano pieces written by Benjamin Britten two centuries later. An eyebrow raising combination yet - trust me - it really works!
The recital opens in dazzling style with CPE Bach’s Sonata in D (Wq69) and one is immediately captivated by Lazic’s enthralling pianism. His performance of the sonata’s third movement, an ‘Allegretto con variazioni’, is a dazzling tour-de-force, one of many found on this disc.

Britten’s delightful ‘Five Waltzes’ Op3, written in 1925 when the composer was just twelve years old and revised in 1969, follows the sonata. The spirit of Chopin looms large in these captivating waltzes and it is unlikely that anyone hearing them for the first time would ever identify Britten as their composer. Lazic lavishes as much care on these delicious pieces of juvenilia as he does on the rest of the music on this disc.

The return to CPE Bach with his ‘Fantasia in D’ (Wq117/14) and ‘La Böhmer’ (Wq117/26) comes as an unexpected stylistic shock because initially the Bach sounds more modern than the Britten. Once again one listens with open-mouthed astonishment at Lazic’s virtuosity in the ‘Prestissimo’ of ‘La Böhmer’- marvelling that fingers could move over the keys with such rapidity and absolute accuracy.

The mood changes once again with the four pieces that make up Britten’s ‘Holiday Diary’ Op.5. The titles of each of these impressionistic pieces provide an accurate description of their musical content -‘Early Morning Bathe’, ‘Sailing’, ‘Fun-Fair’ and ‘Night’ – and illustrate Britten’s marvellous ability at mood and picture painting as well as his sense of humour. To this listener the toccata-like brilliance of the third piece ‘Fun-Fair’ resonates with the earlier sparkle of the CPE Bach (tr.9) – a liaison indeed.

CPE Bach’s ‘Sonata in E flat’ (Wq 65/42) with its lovely introspective slow movement, performed with breathtaking subtlety by Lazic, precedes the final item - Britten’s ‘Night-Piece’.
This was composed in 1963 as a test piece for the first Leeds Piano Competition. It is marked ‘Lento tranquillo’ and requires not virtuosity but musicianship of the highest order in its execution, something Dejan Lazic has in abundance.

This SACD was recorded in September 2008 in the Musiekgebouw Frits Philips in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and its technical quality is superb as one has come to expect from recordings engineered by Jared Sacks. The depth of tone and dynamic range of Lazic’s Steinway D is captured in a warm but clear acoustic that could hardly be bettered.

Those who have acquired Dejan Lazic’s two earlier ‘Liaison’ discs Liaisons Vol. 1 - Dejan Lazic and Liaisons, Vol. 2 - Dejan Lazic will need little encouragement to investigate the latest intriguing release by this phenomenal musician. Those who have yet to investigate ‘Liaisons’ have a real treat awaiting them.

Copyright © 2011 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net