Lise de la Salle brings conceptual new show to Abu Dhabi Classics

The French pianist has an unexpected approach to concert performances

Klavierfestival Ruhr 2018
Lise de la Salle, Konzert im Skulpturenpark Wuppertal

07. Juli 2018

Fotografie: Peter Wieler
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Abu Dhabi Classics welcomes one of the music world's rising stars to the capital this weekend. French pianist Lise de la Salle is hailed as a superb talent because of her exciting performances, which meld the conceptual with the traditional.

For her debut Abu Dhabi appearance at the Cultural Foundation on Saturday, Salle will present a programme exploring how dance rhythms were used by the great composers.

For your debut Abu Dhabi concert, you will present a conceptual show called ‘Dances’. What made you go down that route, instead of the traditional recital format?

This has been happening in the classical music world for the past few years and, if I am honest with you, I wasn't a fan at first. I preferred the more traditional approach to concerts because I felt the music itself was enough, as opposed to also coming up with a concept to tie them all together. But I was encouraged by promoters and agents to do this, so I gave the idea a closer look and gave it a shot.

How did you arrive at the show’s concept?

The whole idea began with me performing music that means a lot to me. And two things that are important to me when it comes to music are rhythm and movement. It is also much deeper than that – these two things refer to how we approach our lives. Rhythm is constant, like our heartbeats, while movement is about us never losing our flow. Sometimes, we get into situations where we feel like we are stuck, and the best way forward is to keep moving.

Your Abu Dhabi repertoire has some popular and surprising choices. What did you look for when choosing the pieces?

This came from my research and my realisation that I didn't want to approach things from an expected way. While I will play a well-known piece at the Cultural Foundation, such as Ravel's gorgeous Valses nobles et sentimentales, I also wanted to play other things that could surprise people, such as Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances and Stravinksy's Tango. When it comes to the latter, many people in Abu Dhabi will be surprised that Stravinsky, this great Russian composer, wrote a tango. I like having these unexpected elements in the show.

Finally, do you feel that online music streaming has resulted in a new generation of classical music fans?

Online streaming does have some positive impact, but I also have a problem with this excess of technology. While it is great to listen to all these amazing recordings on your phone, it does not match the impact of hearing it live in a concert hall. You simply can't match the immersion and journey that a concert experience can provide.

Lise de la Salle will perform at part of Abu Dhabi Classics on Saturday at 8pm at Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi. Tickets beginning at Dh195 from