Having released a series of Rameau and Chopin e-singles in 2022, pianist Bruce Liu now showcases his extraordinary talent in a brand-new recording for Deutsche Grammophon of Johann Sebastian Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G major, BWV 816. Liu’s interpretation will be available to stream or download from this Friday, 14 April 2023.
Bach wrote this suite, one of a set of six, in the early 1720s, possibly as a wedding present for his second wife, Anna Magdalena. The collection later became known as the “French Suites”, but the name is misleading, given that each work contains movements inspired by dances from various national traditions. No. 5, for example, includes a German Allemande, a French Courante, a Spanish Sarabande and an Irish/Scottish Gigue.
The different idioms of these dances are all captured in Liu’s performance. His trademark spontaneity, along with a delightful sense of energy and precision of articulation, can be heard in faster movements such as the Courante and Gigue. By contrast, the Sarabande is noble and sensitive, while the rhythms of the Loure are elegantly phrased. All seven movements are in the key of G major which, for Bruce Liu, inspires a “feeling of lyrical, poetic tenderness”.
He will perform Bach’s French Suite No. 5 at the Rheingau Musik Festival and Festival de Saint-Paul de Vence Classique & Jazz this summer (23/25 July 2023). A major highlight of his schedule before then is his New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall on 19 May, at which he will present a programme of works by Chopin, as well as Liszt’s Réminiscences de Don Juan.
Bruce Liu achieved worldwide fame in October 2021 when he won the 18th International Chopin Piano Competition, becoming the first Canadian ever to take first prize in the long history of this most prestigious event. He signed an exclusive agreement with Deutsche Grammophon the following March. DG’s album of recordings made live during various stages of the Chopin Competition, released in November 2021, had already been met with huge critical acclaim, Gramophone calling it “one of the most distinguished Chopin recitals of recent years, full of maturity, character and purpose”.