This is pianist David DeLucia's third recording from his own private label. I reviewed the first two discs in December 2004.
To recap my opinion of the earlier recordings, DeLucia offers delectable readings of romantically inclined music from a variety of composers. Although he displays a fine technical command of the music, DeLucia's most impressive quality is his ability to fully convey the emotional content and sound world of each composer's works he performs. The result is two enchanting discs covering the themes of romance, sensuality and rapture.
As expected, the new disc is equally compelling and embraces the same themes as the first two recordings. The music of French composers dominates the program, but is appropriately relieved through the Granados, Villa-Lôbos, and Robertson pieces. Here's my take on the 3rd Delucia recording:
Ravel's Pavane and Sonatine – The Pavane is one of the most sensuous and popular Ravel compositions, although the subsequent orchestral version written in 1910 is the form in which it is most often heard. An elegant and melancholy piece, Ravel was highly critical of performances which were quite slow and sedate; his marking of "rather gentle, but with a full sound" reflecting his basic requirements. DeLucia takes Ravel's marking seriously, using a full tone and moderate tempo to convey a stately demeanor. Giving the work a sultry and mysterious atmosphere adds to its magnetism. Definitely a version to listen to with your significant other.
The Sonatine is a three-movement work that Ravel initiated in order to submit a 1st Movement for a competition sponsored by a music magazine; the enterprise had an early death because Ravel was the sole entrant and his movement's length exceeded the contest requirements. This obviously didn't keep Ravel in check as he went on to compose the rest of the work, and it is a wonderful creation. Rapture inhabits each movement, starting with the urgent descending fourth of the opening to the brilliant and swirling passage-work of the 3rd Movement. In between is a Menuet that begins in a rather serene fashion but then explodes in lyricism and ecstasy. In his account, DeLucia displays excellent technical control and always highlights the tension from the score. Most striking is the rhythmic lift he imparts to the initial theme of the Menuet, far different and more vibrant than on Angela Hewitt's highly praised Ravel set for Hyperion where legato phrasing contributes to a somewhat flat performance of the theme.
Granados's "Oriental" – One of his most beautiful and evocative pieces for solo piano, this dance has rapturous Spanish rhythms enveloped in darkness/regret and exquisite dialogue among the musical lines. DeLucia's interpretation is a gorgeous one that well captures the rhythmic flows. I did also listen to the RCA performance from Alicia de Larrocha who reigns supreme in the Spanish piano repertoire; her reading possesses greater elasticity, but DeLucia's loving account matches her in all other respects.
Villa-Lôbos' A Lenda do Caboclo – This is very sultry music with a first section of subtlety contrasted by the second section's energetic Brazilian dance rhythms. DeLucia offers a steamy performance guaranteed to impact one's libido.
Santoro's Paulistana #1 – A Brazilian composer, Santoro wrote seven short works characterizing the city of San Paulo. The first one is a lovely piece evoking comfort and security, and I really like how Delucia sounds so relaxed and at one with the music.
Debussy's Suite Bergamasque – Composed in 1890, this early Debussy work was not published for another 15 years. Although Debussy might have altered the work during that time period, the music's traditional forms argue against any significant revisions. The 1st Movement is a spirited Prelude, the 2nd an assertive Menuet, and the 4th Movement a bustling Passepied based on a baroque dance form in triple meter. The 3rd Movement, "Clair de Lune", is one of Debussy's most famous piano pieces and fully deserving for its gorgeous melodies. DeLucia's performance is perhaps his best on the disc; the confident swagger he gives the Menuet is very impressive, and his "Clair de Lune" is a model of dream-like rapture.
Casadesus's Prelude – Best known as one of the leading concert pianists of the 20th century, Robert Casadesus was also a fine composer writing attractive music with a blend of impressionist and neo-classical styles. Such is the case with the 24 Preludes that Casadesus wrote in his mid-twenties and dedicated to Ravel. DeLucia programs the 24th Prelude which is the longest and most poignant of the set. It begins with music of hazy mystery that is eventually taken over by dance-like rhythms that do not appreciably set a more positive tone due to the ominous bass line. Casadesus then mixes the two themes in a creative manner and closes out the piece with a highly contemplative epilogue that lasts almost two minutes. Given that DeLucia finds a perfect blend of impressionist and neo-classical elements, his performance is a riveting one that has not been surpassed on record.
Robertson's Romance – A composer likely unknown to most readers, Rick Robertson was raised in Roanoke, Virginia and has been a music teacher for the past fifteen years at The School of Music at the First Baptist Church on the Square in Lagrange, Georgia. His most notable teaching accomplishment came from a highly talented 10 year old girl born without fingers on her right hand; Robertson was convinced of her artistic potential and composed and adapted numerous pieces that she could play in recitals. His Romance is unabashedly loving and tender music that DeLucia plays with heart-felt dedication.
Tailleferre's Deux Pieces – Germaine Tailleferre was a member of "Les Six", a group of six composers who promoted a fresh approach to music away from Wagnerism and Impressionism. Mr. Delucia has picked two of her most lovely piano pieces and plays them with subtle passion; both works are nostalgic, the Larghetto conveying regret while bitter-sweet refrains pervade the Valse Lente.
Don's Conclusions: David DeLucia has now given us three exceptional theme discs in excellent and vibrant sound. I am not aware of his future recording plans, but I would love to have him record music of a wider emotional palette. Mr. Delucia has proven his mettle, and I am confident he can stand tall next to the well-known recording artists of our day. In the meantime, his three discs are available at budget price from http://cdbaby.com. If you are looking for romantic music played with devotion, David DeLucia is certainly your man.
Copyright © 2005/2006, Don Satz