Author Topic: The Asian Invasion  (Read 7535 times)

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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #100 on: January 05, 2018, 03:09:08 AM »

Klara Min is yet another Korean pianist with a fine pedagogical pedigree making a first appearance in my collection.  ... ...

The 2015 recording was made in Sono Luminus Studios, and not unexpectedly, sound is superb.  The close microphone placement definitely benefits the quieter playing more, though maybe a tad more space could have benefitted the loudest passages.  I look forward to hearing more from Ms Min.

Such as her Chopin Mazurkas, recorded in 2012 and for a different label, Delos.



Programming is a problem - I mean who wants to listen to 17 consecutive Mazurkas?  12 of these are in a minor key, which made the disc very attractive to me, and for the most part this is quiet and contemplative music.  So much so that the two C major Mazurkas played back to back plumb in the middle of the recital come as a bit of a rude interruption.  I'm no expert on Chopin style, but Klara Min seems me to adopt a neutral approach, gentle but with great clarity and very well recorded, that lets the music shine through.  Very enjoyable - but maybe over two or three sessions, 5 or 6 Mazurkas at a time is enough!

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #101 on: January 08, 2018, 06:17:36 AM »



More music from Sung-Won Yang, this time an assortment of short pieces with French ensemble Les Bons Becs.  Said ensemble is a wind and percussion ensemble based in France, with a heavy dose of clarinets.  The disc veers into crossover territory with its inclusion of one work each from Sonny Bono and David Bowie to go along with short pieces from the likes of Albeniz, Kreisler, Villa-Lobos, Schubert, and so on.  That Schubertís Ave Maria survives its transcription still sounding lovely is no surprise at all, and for the most part the other works all sound just fine, if one approaches this disc as a light entertainment.  The transcriptions of two traditional pieces - Amazing Grace and El cant dels ocells - don't work as well, though the former would probably have worked better had Yang played it solo.  Make no mistake, the artists all know their stuff and play very well, and Yangís tone is absolutely lovely and lyrical when needed, and a bit weightier when needed, too.  As with his work with Trio Owon and Enrico Pace, heís also a star who does not need to always be the center of attention.  Itís a fun recording, and since UMG uploaded it to YouTube, thereís no reason to spend even a nickel on it. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #102 on: January 15, 2018, 06:37:00 AM »



Another Add-on snag.  For under $5, I picked up Pi-Hsien Chen's complete Bach Partitas.  I've seen Ms Chen's name mentioned before, and her Schoenberg is on my to-consider list, but this is the first time I've listened to her playing.  Ms Chen was born in Taiwan, started studying early, did the child prodigy thing (first performance at age five), moved to Germany to study at a young age, got her diploma, and did post-diploma studying with Hans Leygraf, Wilhelm Kempff, and Claudio Arrau, among others.  She did the competition circuit, winning first prize in both the Schoenberg and Bach competitions. 

Before sampling Chen's playing, I revisited a better known quantity in AndrŠs Schiff's Decca recording.  Schiff's playing sounds immaculate, lovely, tastefully ornamented, and expressive without overdoing it.  It's just delightful.  (I prefer his ECM recording, but I hadn't listened to the Decca set in a while, so it got the nod.)  Ms Chen's very recent set has a much closer, drier sound than Schiff's, and her playing is a bit starker, with sparser pedaling and more staccato playing.  Her tone is quite attractive, her dynamic control exact and fine.  Her rhythmic style changes piece to piece.  Sometimes, in faster pieces, she plays quickly and with real snap, and other times - the Sarabande of the third Partita, for instance - her playing takes on a very deliberate, very contemplative, almost-stiff-but-not-quite sound.  Sometimes, she manages to mix together seemingly disparate traits successfully, like in the Praeambulum of the Fifth, which alternates between playful and buoyant, and slightly deliberate yet still fun playing.  She also manages to make the Tempo di Minuetto sound personal and unique.  Really, BWV829 emerges as the relatively best thing in the set.  And the whole set is very fine, indeed.  I can't say that it is better than Schiff or Perahia, and I would be surprised if other listeners found it superior to other established favorites, but this newcomer fits right in with other heavy hitters.  This set justifies its standard price; at clearance price, it's a steal.

Good stuff.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline amw

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #103 on: January 15, 2018, 11:49:17 AM »
Iím a fan of her playing in general but didnít know this existed, so thanks...

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #104 on: Today at 06:26:37 AM »



I figured it was time for a wunderkind, in the form of Niu Niu.  Niu Niu, real name Zhang Shengliang, was born in China way back in 1997, started playing piano at age three, gave his first performance at age six, and then at the advanced age of nine he started studying under Hung-Kuan Chen in Boston and he also signed with EMI, releasing a Mozart album in 2008.  This disc of Liszt transcriptions was released later in his career, when he was fifteen.  He is now twenty years old.  How time flies.

The pieces included are not my favorite Liszt works, which made this an ideal candidate for streaming.  The first piece, the transcription of Saint-SaŽnsí Danse macabre, reveals Niu Niu to be a young man possessed of awesome technical equipment.  He seems to have no trouble with the music.  Nothing seems fast enough or dazzling enough.  If he needs to play loud, he seems to have many dynamic gradations between mezzo-forte and fortissimo.  Really, how loud do you want it?  Now, he does back off a bit in the Schubert transcriptions, but lyricism and nuance, particularly on the low dynamic end, is somewhat lacking.  Playfulness and excitement, though, are not.  Das Wandern is played as a virtuosic bon-bon, and ErlkŲnig finds Niu Niu playing with verve, stabbing out some flinty upper register notes.  Not surprisingly, the three Liszt Paganini Etudes presented are all played effortlessly.  If one might say depth is absent, that might be more the fault of the music.  The Wagner transcriptions start off with Liebestod that offers more nuance than some of the prior playing might have indicated would be on offer, and Niu Niu has no problems scaling up his playing to a nice quasi-orchestral sound, and if not the tenderest or most touching of renditions, it works.  The Spinnerslied is playful and fun, and almost sounds like Mendelssohn.  (Gasp!)  After a nice O du, mein holder Abendstern, the disc switches back to Liszt.  The famous Liebestraume is nice played but doesnít sound especially dreamy.  The disc ends with the Grand Galop Chromatique.  Only Jorge Bolet has managed to make it sound like proper music.  Niu Niu takes a tack similar to France Clidat in playing it as an unabashed and vulgar showpiece, but he displays absolute command and flashy showmanship in quantities necessary to pull it off.  Itís not musically satisfying, but it would garner much applause as an encore. 

This is a nice enough disc, and given the pianistís age when he made it, one can hope that he ends up maturing a bit more and focusing a bit less on dazzle and more on insight.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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