About pianist Jan Lisiecki, Canada’s frankly adorable golden boy, circumspection would be the better part of valour. It would be wrong to discourage this fine pianist at the start of his success and disparage his considerable accomplishment of recording the Chopin Etudes for Deutsche Grammophon, so this article is proffered as an aside. I sincerely hope this does not come to the attention of someone who possesses a delicate sensibility; a young man who clearly loves playing his instrument. One wonders if, in the middle of a hopefully glorious career, he might think back to this recording and blush.
Marked generally by tepid tempi and an incessant habit of slowing for expression, he groups his musical thoughts into clumps of the faster moving notes. The quick études’ chopping articulation in the left hand distracts from liquid facility in the right, and in the slow études, they are as touching as the finer feelings of an adolescent (if you’re into that sort of thing). His sound, never banged, can be pleasingly pale, even amazingly transparent, if monochromatic although his Op, 10 #6, has the tonal variety of a MIDI. His pokey staccato belongs rather in vaudeville.
If we’re searching for the personality of the pianist, Mr. Lisiecki is at his best in the good-natured major keyed studies: Op.10 # 7 and 8; and Op. 25 # 3 and 8. The textures of the last two études of the second set were finely bubbling, boiling and roiling.
The appealing promise of this young man is that of an innate artist without affectation. A Calgarian, now living in Toronto, let’s hope he spends more time in museums, also, with philosophers and poets, if he is to assume the mantle of Glenn Gould.
Mr. Lisiecki can play sweetly, but does not yet sing tenderly. I hope he falls in love, and that it’s not too painful when his heart is broken. Everything in its own time.