Lu's tour de force
Our second Qobuzissime album of the week goes to the young American pianist Eric Lu, who impresses with his album dedicated to Chopin, Brahms and Schumann.
The most striking aspect of these Preludes by Chopin undertaken by Eric Lu is the absolutely lyrical tranquility that dominates the forty-minute-long journey which is so arduous to build fluidly and coherently.
Eric Lu deserves admiration for the expressive and polyphonic unity that he brings to the cycle, which is usually more contrasted. The American’s playing resounds as his phrases transport you on a grand, noble journey of emotion. Behind this soft façade is a somewhat more tragic melancholy, which increases over the course of the album and reveals the sombre, or at the very least anxious nature of the 24 Preludes. Chopin is at his darkest romanticism, not too far removed from the Schumann of the Kreisleriana (April 1838).
It comes as no surprise that Lu continues his second recital for Warner Classics with one of Schumann’s strangest works, the Theme and Variations in E-flat major, composed in 1854 as a sort of swan song by the German romantic composer.
In this tribute to masters of the past including Bach and Beethoven, Schumann risks using particularly stripped back polyphonies in rarefied pianissimo nuances; in doing so, Eric Lu creates a direct link with Chopin’s cycle, firmly remaining on the gentle and meditative side (Variations 2 and 5), without searching for any particular contrast.
Placing fourth in the 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, where he already impressed with his rendition of the 24 Preludes, the young American pianist Eric Lu (born in 1997) delivers a captivating recital on this album, sometimes bewildering, but definitely the most accomplished of the three already published − the first was released on German label Genuin. This is definitely a musician to be followed very closely.