About Lucas' recital at the LausitzFestival in Germany.
"The Fürst Pückler Palace with park in Bad Muskau would have deserved a trip in itself. The performance of pianist Lucas Debargue justified to the highest degree to go there (and late return) - like few pianists, the Frenchman knows how to turn a recital into a special evening. The artistic director of festival, Daniel Kühnel presented him as a thinker; in spite of his young age, he is a skilful, open-minded and creative artist who places his works to the special “frames”, one might almost say - to a new dimension, which creates new links and builds exciting bridges.
And he is one of them who dares to play Mozart. While many pianists tend to turn to the more effective late piano concertos and leave out this sonatas, which seem not so complex, Lucas Debargue put just such a sonata at the beginning of his programme - A Minor, K 310, the famous work Mozart wrote during his journey to Paris shortly before his mother died. (---) It was impressive and enchanting how Lucas Debargue did not not put a "stamp" on the work, he was leaving it free, but still had individual interpretation with variable tempi. And he likes it boldly, which was immediately clear with the acciaccaturas in the beginning of the first movement. Lucas Debargue did not only sharpen the contours between rebellion and despair there but he also searched for sound, explored space. In this way, he created a whole which brought together all the contradictions. Second movement was intimate although there was also a certain liveliness inside. In the Presto, the pianist turned it dramatical almost like “Erlkönig”.
The transition to Frédéric Chopin came naturally, almost logically. The second ballade seemed to pick up there where Mozart left off in the second movement of his sonata - perhaps drawing a portrait of his mother there. Here too, a tumultuously fast movement followed, but very clearly articulated. He does nothing for just an effect: he gave every note, every change meaning.
Chopin's Prelude in C-sharp Minor, op 45 is in a freer form, it seemed to float and offered a calming effect, before the Polonaise-Fantasy in A-flat Major op 61 again showed the extent of Debargue's creative reach: from deep (spiritual) relaxation to passionate upward striving. Everything seemed to happen in that moment, for that piano and that room. It would be fascinating to experience Lucas Debargue with the same work in another concert, and one must assume that his interpretation is so individual that two performances of the same work are certainly not similar (without any contradiction).
Anyone who dares to play like this, has to be open-minded, willing to take risks. Openness starts with the instrument. There was indeed a Steinway & Sons, model D. Intendant Daniel Kühnel provided information during the interval: it was not a conventional piano model, but a piano from one of the concert piano workshops (Klangmanufaktur) in Hamburg. There, a few enthusiasts (or 'crazies') work on the pianos, removing what is not needed, freeing up the soundboard - all in the search of that sound. The sound changes, not fundamentally, but gets stronger in the brighter tones, allows for more sharpness - fitting for someone with the creative will and courage like Lucas Debargue.
Maurice Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" is not often a main work in a recital – here it became a highlight. (---)
You can rarely experience how the nuances of dynamics and modulations are not theoretical, but meaningful and connected to the work. So even Franz Liszt's unbridled, complex “Après une lecture du Dante - Fantasia quasi Sonata” grew into a portrayal of ambivalent worlds, combining a sensual dream with a fast-paced march.
With two sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, Lucas Debargue bid the audience 'au revoir' - hopefully only temporarily!"