"Le Nouvelliste" Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
"This delightful new album from Eroica Classical Recordings features lovely, sensitive interpretations of the music of Franz Liszt and Modest Musorgsky, by the young Canadian pianist, Jacques Despres. His Liszt selections, En Reve and Abschied, based on a Russian folk tune, were rendered with delicate, subtle playing."
Kip Allen, Program Director, on "Something's New" KHFM Classical
96FM, Albuquerque, NM
Widely acclaimed pianist Jacques DesprÃ©s has dazzled audiences for nearly two decades in his native Canada and the U.S. with his sensitive yet powerful style and sympathetic interpretations of a broad range of composers.
Mr. DesprÃ©s has collaborated with internationally renowned pianists Radu Lupu and Nicolai Petrov, and has appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Montreal, Quebec and others under the baton of conductors including Otto-Werner Muller, Franz-Paul Decker, Jens Nygaard and Simon Streatfield. Mr. DesprÃ©s's tours have included numerous recitals in Canada aired on CBC radio, and performances at summer festivals in North America.
His prestigious awards include: the Frank Kopp Memorial Prize at the University of Maryland International Piano competition; First Prize at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition; the Musical Academy of Quebec "prix d' Europe" competition; and the doctoral concerto competition at SUNY, Stony Brook.
He studied under many of the great masters including Gyorgy Sebok, Gilbert Kalish, Adele Marcus, William Masselos and Christiane Senart.
Mr. DesprÃ©s has established a solid reputation as a leading lecture-performance artist on both period and modern instruments, including a series on the Chopin Ballades at New York's Julliard School, and the early sonatas of Beethoven at the yearly Friends of the Arts Beethoven Festival on Long Island.
He also was the musical director of Summer Serenades, a lecture-concert series at the University of Stony Brook's Staller Center. This imaginative series won an enormous following due in large part to his performances, his lucid and illustrative pre-concert lectures, and his creative programming. The series not only delivered compelling solo and chamber music performances from the standard repertoire, it also gave voice to such neglected composers as Clara Schumann, Alma Mahler-Werfel, and Federico Garcia Lorca to name but a few.
Jacques DesprÃ©s is the recipient of many grants from the Juilliard School, the Quebec ministries of Education and Cultural Affairs, and the Canada Council. He recently completed his doctorate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and holds a Masters degree from the Juilliard School of Music. He received with High Distinction the Artist Diploma from Indiana University, and was awarded a unanimous first prize from the Conservatory of Quebec. In 1996, Mr. DesprÃ©s joined the faculty of Western Washington University in Bellingham.
About the Instrument
The piano used for this recording is a Steinway & Sons model D manufactured in New York in 1879. All the selections on this compact disc were written around that time. The character of this piano is well suited for Liszt's late works. Its sound is substantial and austere. This instrument also lends itself very well to the nineteenth-century Russia of Musorgsky. This piano is capable of producing a powerful sound, without the danger of shrillness. At the same time, the pianist can draw on a plethora of coloristic possibilities. By using some tempi passed on to us by Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov and Vladimir Stasov, according to their recollections of Mussorsgky's playing of PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, this piano reveals a sustaining power which allows the beauty of PICTURES to speak for itself, without the extravagant artistry of an orchestrator. This recording does not make any specific claim for "period authenticity"--just what one would hope to be well-founded interpretations enhanced by the wonderful and expressive possibilities of a great instrument.
"I found Mr. DesprÃ©s's interpretations very refreshing. I also was quite satisfied with the selections on the CD. While there may be a temptation to explore his "dark side", the music featured on this disc lean more to the "spiritual" Liszt. I have a feature called "The Midnight Lullaby", and I am anxious to play at least 3 of these selections for that slot."
John McTague, Music Director, on "What's New" W-Bach Classical
104.9FM, Boston, MA
"Jacques DesprÃ©s has developed a smooth and flexible technique which can handle just about any problem Liszt devised."
Eric McLean, "The Gazette", Montreal
"He immediately showed that he is a Bartok player after the composer's own heart. Despres played with imagination and incisive, accurate rhythm, but he always brought out the singing quality in the music. It's that mixture of beautiful song and singing dissonance that makes Bartok's music so memorable, and Despres' performance was also memorable."
Leslie Gerber, "Woodstock Times"
"Already possessor of an excellent technique, Jacques Despres went even further in the knowledge and science of his instrument, which bestows him with pianistic means of the first order. The pianistic control is impeccable, the sonority magnificent, and the playing is of utmost and constant clarity."
Marc Samson, "le Soleil", Quebec
"After the Egmont Overture, the audience listened to the Emperor Concerto rendered in a sovereign fashion. This Beethoven masterpiece requires from the performer great sensitivity and power, which we find in Despres."
"Few major pianists have given equally convincing performances of Beethoven and Chopin. The ability to play one composer's music very well seems almost to preclude doing as well with the other. But Despres proved an exception to this rule."
Leslie Gerber, "Woodstock Times"
"He once more revealed himself an artist of refined taste, quivering sensitivity, intelligence, and discipline, through which filter a love of music-making. He is a willful interpreter of undeniable insight--the possessor of a sure and at times stunning technique who never wants to only dazzle."
"Le Nouvelliste", Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
Check out the artist's website:
1. Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen / Variations
2. Czardas Macabre
3. Nuages Gris
4. Elegy No. 1
5. En RÃ©ve
7. Pictures at an Exhibition / Promenade
10. Il vecchio castello
12. Children at Play
15. Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
18. The Market
20. The Hut on Hen's Legs
21. The Knight's Castle