With her big doe eyes, long, wispy blond bangs, and cherub face, Lise de la Salle could pass for any teen cutie. Once she hits the keyboard, however, watch out. Crowned "a talent in a million" by Gramophone, the 19-year-old French pianist has wowed the world with her prodigious gifts, which include not only a superlative technique but also a passionate, mature musicianship that one finds in only the rarest of prodigies. Critics have used up just about every adjective to describe her, from "radiant" to "poetic" to "exhilarating"; several reviews, in fact, have commented on the fact that the audience seems to forget to breathe during her concerts. Born in Cherbourg in 1988, young Lise declared her intention to become a concert pianist at the age of 4. By 13, she'd graduated Paris's Conservatoire Superieur de Musique with honors, and that same year she became an overnight sensation when she learned the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 in three days as a last-minute replacement for another pianist. Today, de la Salle tours the world, stopping this week at the Hollywood Bowl, where she'll perform Prokofiev's fiendishly challenging Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Bramwell Tovey. The all-Russian program also includes Tchaikovsky's Festival Coronation March and Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.
Thu., Sept. 4, 8 p.m., 2008