"That is why I chose to become a Bösendorfer pianist."
"In a better world, Gianluca Luisi would be feted as a natural successor to Maurizio Pollini, but this is a world in which talent doesn't matter as much as how good you look, how powerful your agent is ....
... and whether or not you'd survive a week on Dancing With the Stars. Sadly, Pollini himself probably wouldn't make it if he were coming up."
With this critical words about modern selection mechanism Lynn Renè Bayley starts her article about a "superb pianist who has won several major competitions", an artist who "despite several commercial recordings, still is not known to a great many music lovers."
After appearance of the September/October-issue of "Fanfare", the US-magazine "for serious record collectors" that situation will change.
His fans adore him: Gianluca Luisi. Exceptional and highly gifted. Grounded, personable and always grateful.
Gianluca Luisi: A Star on Rise
In "fanfare's" recent publication, the music magazine devotes ample room to the young Italian pianist Gianluca Luisi. By the words of famous critic Lynn Renè Bayley, his personality and his artistry come into the limelight of the fine arts.
In a long interview Gianluca Luisi talks about his education and career. About his technique and why he has so much fun with music. Coming to the piano as his passion, his life, the critic starts to discuss about Luisi's instrument:
FANFARE: "Now I must discuss your instrument. I was very lucky, many years ago, to sit and play a Bösendorfer. Aside from the pearly, crystal-like tone, what surprised me was how easy the keyboard action was. It seems as if you only have to breathe on the keys and they play. Do you find that this enhances your playing?"
LUISI: "The main aspects of a Bösendorfer are certainly a different mechanism and building compared to others pianos. It has a different sound similar to the Viennese sound. That is why I chose to become a Bösendorfer pianist. I did very hard work on the sound and found a fantastic partner in this piano. I find its sound really beautiful."
FANFARE: "How long have you been playing Bösendorfers?"
LUISI: "Since 1995. For 15 years."
"I found a fantastic partner in this piano."
Oxymorons in the music of Franz Liszt
In respect to the forthcoming 200 year anniversary of Franz Liszt - at his time Bösendorfer artist from deep conviction, too - we also want to hint at another passage of the very interesting interview.
When the critic shows her deep admiration for Gianluca Luisi's "very finest" interpretation of Liszt's music, she asks the artist:
"How on earth How on earth did you manage to convert Liszt’s demanding technical hurdles into a feeling of enjoyment?
LUISI: "I think there are many oxymorons in Liszt’s music. I mean, there are holy aspects, demon aspects, and also funny aspects. We should not forget he was a “Stürmer.” It could seem strange to have a feeling of enjoyment while playing his music, but it is only because of pianists’ attitude to fix their mind on the technique.
First of all, this attitude does not allow the pianist to enjoy the music he is playing; consequently it does not let the audience get involved in it. I cannot help thinking that Maestro Cortot (maestro of my actual teacher, Aldo Ciccolini) was absolutely right when he said a pianist should think only to interpret the music in order to improve his technical skills.
I would like to be remembered as a pianist who put himself at the disposal of the repertoire, to quote Busoni’s statement. I would like to be a means to let the audience get in contact with the composer. Indeed, my favorite pianist is Claudio Arrau."
Take the time and have a look at the whole interview. You will find many more sophisticated questions and answers about music, in general, and Gianluca Luisi's approach to it, in particular:
Bösendorfer Artist Gianluca Luisi
"It's that good."
Next to the extended artist-talk, in it's September/October issue "Fanfare" also reviews four CD-projects that Gianluca Luisi has been recording with different labels:
BACH Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2 on CENTAUR
ONSLOW Piano Sextet in E♭, op. 30. Piano Quintet in B♭, op. 79b MDG 6031442-2 (73:02)
THUILLE Sextet in B♭, Op. 6. Piano Quintet in E♭,... on NAXOS
LISZT Soirées italiennes, S 411 (after Mercadante)... on NAXOS
In the Liszt CD Lynn Renè Bayley discovers "much musical integrity" paired with much "joy and wit". Luisi plays on a Bösendorfer 290 Imperial which makes available to her "the structural clarity of the works":
"... Indeed, it may be that it is exactly because Luisi has spent so many years playing more substantive and less showy repertoire that these performances work so well.
Certainly the crystalline tone of his Bösendorfer has a lot to do with hearing all the structural clarity in these works, but Luisi’s incredibly crisp articulation and (as I said) somewhat more serious mein bring the listener’s focus to the quality of the music without making an undue fuss over its technical difficulty.
To give but two examples: The final Bolero of the Soirées italiennes has all the swagger one might wish in it, yet at the same time Liszt’s command of chordal richness and exuberant use of power shine through, while in the Paganini Etude No. 4, Luisi flies over the keyboard with elfin grace, always drawing the listener inward but never, ever in a way that brags of his digital dexterity. In the Seven Variations on a Theme of Rossini, Luisi finally lets his bravado out of the bottle, so to speak.
The performance is so effervescent, so bubbling over with joy and wit, that at the end you almost feel like jumping out of your seat and applauding. It’s that good."
(Photocredits: Bösendorfer, Naxos)