Pianist Luca Buratto, winner of Canada’s Honens Piano Competition in 2015, is a musician of striking sensitivity, with a style both radiant and economical.
His blessedly non-flamboyant rendition of the first movement of Schumann’s “Fantasy in C Major” starts off the two-disc Live at Honens 2015 with assured grace, the stormy sections heavy and prismatic, the quiet passages especially affecting. The hummable themes of the second movement swing almost jazzily, which I find uplifting, and the third has the requisite delicacy, alternately angelic and haunting. A feather-light pastoral movement from Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze closes the disc with a similar touch.
While every pianist has his own style, it’s with Debussy perhaps more than any other composer that extremes of interpretation play out. Buratto, while no extremist, does bring a distinctive tone and sense of density to the popular “L’isle Joyeuse.” That piece in turn fits well with the Études by Ligeti that sandwich it, each with contrasting gossamer and fiery sections and an indeterminate ending.
Buratto gives Prokofiev’s initially playful Sonata No. 7 a suitably spare approach that lets the interesting harmonies and thoughtful melodies speak for themselves. The heavily rhythmic passages dance and stomp without unneeded self-regard, though Buratto certainly brings the insistent final movement to a close with the flourish it deserves.
The kaleidoscopic Disc Two focuses on collaborations with other musicians. While less compelling as a purely pianistic statement, it’s a strong demonstration of the pianist’s facility with a wide range of compositional sensibilities. One high point is a sweetly sensitive performance of Mozart’s Trio K. 498, with clarinetist James Campbell and violist Hsin-Yun Huang. Another comprises two brief, charming songs by Fernando Obradors, with soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, who is also heard to advantage in songs by Brahms and Pauline Viardot.
Buratto’s bright, fluid playing in Viardot’s vocal arrangement of a mazurka by her friend Chopin, and his sensitive accompaniment on the Brahms, suggest an affinity for the romantic repertoire as well.
Buratto and Huang also offer a sterling rendition of Hindemith’s youthful Sonata for Viola and Piano in F major, with its particularly exciting third movement. Campbell joins the pianist for five sprightly but for the most part rather surface-y Dance Preludes by Lutoslawski.
The collection of live performances captured on this double album suggests a bright future for this versatile, intelligent, and soulful young pianist.