Author Topic: The Asian Invasion  (Read 52066 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #140 on: November 03, 2018, 04:41:32 AM »



A few years ago, I picked up a couple discs from Zhu Xiao-Mei, a Schumann disc and an LvB Op 111/Schubert D960 pairing (talk about heavyweight fare), and I enjoyed both a figured I should try more of her stuff.  It's been a while, but now seems like as good a time as any to try more of her work.  This time I went with lighter though not slighter fare: 17 Scarlatti sonatas.  Two words can best describe her style: fluid and poetic.  While she has the rhythm thing down pat, and if one chooses to focus on that aspect it will not be found wanting, and while dynamic contrasts are not wanting, either, her playing just seems to glide along smoothly and beautifully.  I hesitate to say that the playing sounds truly "spontaneous", because it sounds as though Zhu put great thought into how she wanted each sonata to sound and then delivers on her concepts, though momentary inspiration may obviously have played a part.  Zhu does play pianistically, taking liberal advantage of the sustain pedal from time to time, but she doesn't approach Pletnev in that regard.  Her softer-grained approach also calls to mind Schiff on Decca a bit, though she's not as fastidious, or precious, if you prefer.  If this does not necessarily join Pletnev or Hinrichs or Babayan in the Scarlatti on the piano sweepstakes, it is a very fine recording and one that reminds me that I really need to get to Zhu's Bach.  The Schubert D915 encore makes a delightful encore.
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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #141 on: November 04, 2018, 05:28:41 PM »
What are your thoughts on this set?


Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #142 on: November 04, 2018, 05:47:44 PM »
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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #143 on: November 04, 2018, 06:29:36 PM »
Thanks. That thread didn't come up when I searched for her name. I started with discs 8 and 9--so far, so good! She may not inject quite as much of herself into the music as others, but there's no denying that she's a fine player.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #144 on: November 06, 2018, 12:12:19 PM »



A few years ago, I picked up a couple discs from Zhu Xiao-Mei, a Schumann disc and an LvB Op 111/Schubert D960 pairing (talk about heavyweight fare), and I enjoyed both a figured I should try more of her stuff.  It's been a while, but now seems like as good a time as any to try more of her work.  This time I went with lighter though not slighter fare: 17 Scarlatti sonatas.  Two words can best describe her style: fluid and poetic.  While she has the rhythm thing down pat, and if one chooses to focus on that aspect it will not be found wanting, and while dynamic contrasts are not wanting, either, her playing just seems to glide along smoothly and beautifully.  I hesitate to say that the playing sounds truly "spontaneous", because it sounds as though Zhu put great thought into how she wanted each sonata to sound and then delivers on her concepts, though momentary inspiration may obviously have played a part.  Zhu does play pianistically, taking liberal advantage of the sustain pedal from time to time, but she doesn't approach Pletnev in that regard.  Her softer-grained approach also calls to mind Schiff on Decca a bit, though she's not as fastidious, or precious, if you prefer.  If this does not necessarily join Pletnev or Hinrichs or Babayan in the Scarlatti on the piano sweepstakes, it is a very fine recording and one that reminds me that I really need to get to Zhu's Bach.  The Schubert D915 encore makes a delightful encore.

I've seen her in concert and I've heard some of her recordings of Bach. I think, from what I've seen of your taste, that you will enjoy her AoF.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 12:15:06 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #145 on: November 10, 2018, 06:42:53 AM »



Harpsichordist Tomoko Matsuoka popped up while I was looking for new Scarlatti recordings.  This disc of sixteen sonatas from 2008 is her only commercial recording to date, unless one considers a didactic recording she made.  Ms Matsuoka was born and raised in Japan and engaged in early training there before moving to Milan to further her studies.  She did the masterclass thing with, among others, Christophe Rousset and Kenneth Gilbert, and won various awards at various competitions. 

The disc opens with the first three sonatas, then moves to an assortment of works from there, with works mostly presented in small blocks of consecutive sonatas.  When I listen to Scarlatti sonatas today, I typically listen to modern grands.  My benchmark for harpsichord recordings remains Scott Ross.  There's no denying that Ms Matsuoka can play, but, for the most part, her playing lacks the drive and energy, and some might say assertiveness or aggressiveness, of Mr Ross' playing.  That may or may not be a good thing, depending on taste.  To the sonatas: while there are nice things to be heard in K1, it seems a bit formal; Matsuoka ornaments nicely, and plays cleanly, it just seems polite.  Same with the second sonata.  K3, though, shows that Matsuoka can play with real verve, as does the excellent K209.  From that point forward, Matsuoka delivers several big hits and no real misses.  K214 sounds very fine.  K146 delights with its fun rubato.  K29 is close to perpetual motion musical goodness.  Overall, it's not the best Scarlatti I've heard, but it certainly has its appeal. 

The ancient Ruckers instrument sounds quite excellent.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #146 on: November 17, 2018, 06:51:50 AM »



I enjoyed Tomoko Matsuoka's Scarlatti sufficiently so that I figured I should try another Japanese harpsichordist in this music.  I opted for Eiji Hashimoto's selection of eighteen sonatas recorded for the Klavier label.  Mr Hashimoto was born and raised in Japan, spent some time studying with Ralph Kirkpatrick, taught for a while at Toho School of Music, and then he spent a long time at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music before retiring in 2001.  He was good enough to catch the ear of Rudolf Serkin and ended up performing at Marlboro.  In addition to playing the harpsichord, Hashimoto also put together his own edition of one hundred Scarlatti sonatas, with said edition still available.  (There's also a three volume edition of ninety sonatas readily available.)  So he's an artist and a scholar.

This disc includes some less frequently recorded sonatas, which is fine, since lesser known of the sonatas need more love.  Hashimoto certainly knows the music and knows what he wants to do.  Some of the sonatas, and many sections of pretty much every sonata, come off very well.  His ornamentation is generally just fine.  However, his frequent use of pauses often interrupts the forward flow of the music.  He does this in pretty much every sonata, and sometimes it works better than others, but it ends up tipping into distracting mannerism before the disc is done.  Some of the phrasing also sounds stiff in a number of sonatas, lacking the sense of playfulness or rhythmic vitality found in other versions, harpsichord or piano.  As a result, the disc is one with some very fine moments and a greater abundance of less fine moments.

I streamed the disc, and sound is excellent even that way.  The few Klavier discs I own all have demonstration quality sound, so I would not be surprised if a physical copy of this disc does as well.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #147 on: November 24, 2018, 07:15:06 AM »





Duanduan Hao is a twenty-something Chinese pianist who spent his early years in China, including training in Shanghai, before moving first to Paris as a teenager to continue his studies there, and then moving to New York for studies at Juilliard and Columbia.  Along the way, he won the 2009 Shanghai International Piano Competition.  So he's got the goods.

These two discs are characterized by a few traits.  First is clean articulation.  Second is discreet ornamentation.  Third is tasteful restraint.  Perhaps too much so.  Hao never gets wild and crazy.  That's not to say that his playing sounds dowdy or ponderous, just that it's often a bit safe.  Even so, he tends to sound better in faster sonatas, where his digital dexterity is on display.  Slower sonatas and passages sound somewhat plain.  There's certainly nothing wrong with the playing, and the interpretations are not at all bad, it's just that there are better discs out there.  As to specific highlights from the two discs, Kk162 is a joyful bundle of energy, while Kk140, 229, 390, 467, and 541 all caught my ear.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #148 on: December 01, 2018, 06:48:12 AM »







Hae-won Chang is not new to me.  I've owned a copy of one of her Hummel solo piano music discs for many moons, but I decided, after probably well over a decade since hearing a note played by her, to try two Scarlatti discs released by Naxos in the 90s.  The recordings also surfaced in the Korean market in the mid-80s on Philips, and in other Asian markets on the Marco Polo label at the same time, so it's probably an early (now) HNH recording.  Ms Chang was, even at the time of the recordings, more experienced than many other artists in this thread.  She graduated from Ewha University in Seoul in the early 60s before heading to Germany to finish up her studies, and she has been before the public since 1957, per her official bio.  Her musical collaborators in the past included names like Christian Ferras and Renata Tebaldi.  Quite naturally, she holds or held a teaching position as well.  Without doing a Korean language search, I don't know her current activities.

From the first sonata to the last, one gets the impression that Chang is a very serious, talented, and very conservative player.  While she ornaments and embellishes, everything is within what seems to be strict, very tasteful bounds.  There is none of the more pronounced rubato of pianists like Pletnev or Baglini.  Dynamic accents are restrained, too, not taking full advantage of the instrument, like Baglini does with his Fazioli.  This tendency becomes obvious in K24, which sounds a bit stodgy and overly serious, and then a bit later in both K87 or K99, the playing becomes maybe just a bit too serious.  To be sure, some sonatas come off very well.  For instance, K113 is lighter and funner.  K114 too - and it has notably even trills, too.  K183 has some sweetness to it, while K213 a sort of lovely reserve.  Overall, this is a nice twofer, though it is ultimately too reserved to equal my preferred sets, but time listening to Ms Chang play is time well spent.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #149 on: December 08, 2018, 07:06:40 AM »



Well, here's something new.  Scarlatti played by a gamelan orchestra at Sanggar Kembang Ceraki.  The brief, just shy of thirty-nine minute recording contains gamelan transcriptions of a dozen Scarlatti sonatas.  The transcriptions only occasionally, faintly, and fleetingly sound like Scarlatti, and the rest of the time sound like gamelan music with various combinations of instruments and even voices.  (And insects and frogs.)  I didn't expect a revelation, and I didn't get one, but it makes for a nice enough one time listening experience.   
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #150 on: December 11, 2018, 03:09:41 AM »
   
    :laugh:

Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #151 on: December 15, 2018, 07:27:02 AM »



I managed to pick up Handsome Hong Xu's so far sole commercial disc for a pittance, and what I expected, based on my experience of Honens recordings, was a very fine recital.  I got more than that.  Mr Xu, who currently chairs the piano department at Wuhan Conservatory, started his training early in his native China, trained at the Wuhan Conservatory as well as the Eastman and Juilliard Schools, did the competition thing, including the Honens, and has since moved into the performing world to augment his teaching.

Jumping right in: Xu starts the disc with D576, and the Allegro is quick, energetic, and assertive but not at all aggressive.  His playing displays fine tone and fully modern dynamic precision, with really deft dynamic shifts sprinkled throughout.  Come the Adagio, Xu slows down, and he keeps things pretty even keel.  There's no excessive, extra-expressive rubato to be heard, but again, his supremely fine dynamic control is in evidence, as is the remarkable clarity of voices.  While held in the check, the melodies take on a sort of flight of fancy feel.  It's not necessarily deep, but it sounds absolutely lovely.  Xu closes with an energetic Allegretto where one is tempted to comment on the evenness and beauty of the melodies, but these are comparatively overshadowed by some equally even and almost as beautiful accompaniment.  Next up is the standalone D540 Adagio, which Xu brings in at just about ten minutes.  Tempi are perfectly judged, as are dynamics for the most part.  One might be able to say some left hand notes are overemphasized here or there, but then one can just as equally say that the accents add a touch of needed weight in small doses.  K332 follows, and once again Xu displays extremely fine dynamic control married to lovely tone and an assertive but not at all aggressive sound.  It's weighty but not overwrought; classical but not too contained.  Xu again delivers a lovely slow movement, and here he embellishes just a bit more, though always tastefully, while the Allegro assai is rather like the D576 closer.  D282 follows, and here Xu opens with an almost too beautiful Adagio.  Spiced up a bit with eminently tasteful embellishments, with gorgeous tone throughout, Xu takes this early work and while making it sound early, he also makes it sound just about as good as any version I've heard.  The Menuets are peppier and lovely, and the closing Allegro is light fun.  This is a top tier quality performance.  K310 ends the disc.  Xu plays with some boldness and assertiveness, though he never goes for too much, and somewhat unexpectedly some of the playing is not pristinely clear, which I have to think was an interpretive choice.  Keep the music moving forward rather than getting bogged in the details, that sort of thing.  The Andante cantabile, while lovely - especially those perfectly judged and executed trills - is more playful than one might expect after the opening movement.  Xu wraps things up with a Presto that stays light and delightful much of the time, with hints of energy and almost angst, but nothing too dramatic.  It's most satisfying, as is the sonata and the disc.

While listening, one name came to mind several times: William Youn.  I think Youn is slightly better overall, if only because his playing is just a bit more refined.  This is not to say that Xu is anything but highly refined; rather, Youn is almost superhumanly refined.  The quality of this disc makes me hope that the still on the young-ish side Mr Xu lays down more than a few recordings.  More Mozart would be welcome, as would some Beethoven (of course), and some, well, frankly any core rep, really. 

Sound is excellent, though a bit too reverberant to be called truly SOTA, at least for my taste.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #152 on: December 22, 2018, 09:08:22 AM »



Cecile Licad is not new to me.  I have her Rach 2 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Claudio Abbado on LP.  The recording is hardly a favorite for either work, but it's nice enough.  Nice enough so that when I found this disc of Schumann works as an Amazon Add-on, it seemed like a good time to try something new from the Filipina ivory tickler.

The disc opens with my favorite Schumann solo piano work, Carnaval.  Licad starts strong, with a Preambule that is both light on its feet and large of scale as she pounds out the chords.  Her rubato is personal and playful, which is amplified in Arlequin.  In the first three tracks, one gets the sense that Licad is more at home in the Florestan music.  Valse noble and Eusebius both nix that notion.  Tender and dreamy, they sound swell.  Throughout the work, Licad more or less delivers on the full promise of the opening few pieces.  Occasionally, the loudest playing starts to sound a bit clangy, but not enough to detract from the proceedings, and when she needs to, Licad really delivers, as in the boisterous concluding March.  I can't say this rates with my favorite recordings of the work, but it is superb.  Papillons follows, and, if anything, the piece is even better suited to Licad's style, flitting along, jumping between styles.  Alas, the early digital sound shows its limitations as the loudest passages sound both occasionally clangy and overloaded.  Were the sound tidier, the result would be even better.  The disc closes with the Toccata.  Licad plays it well enough.  Overall, this is a fine disc and one that makes me think it might not be a bad idea to hear Licad in Chopin. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #153 on: December 29, 2018, 07:45:47 AM »



Min Kwon is yet another South Korean pianist of no little academic accomplishment.  Born and raised in her home country, and debuting with the Korean Symphony at the ripe old age of twelve, she earned a scholarship to the Curtis Institute at fourteen, studied under Leon Fleisher and Eleanor Sokoloff, and she debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra at sixteen.  After that, she earned her DMA at Juilliard, and then did post-doc work at the University of Mozarteum under Hans Leygraf.  She also won some contests.  She is currently the Interim Director of Music at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.  She's legit.

The disc is devoted to the Schubert D850 and three Liszt works, Gretchen am Spinnrade, Gnomenreigen, and the Don Juan Fantasy.  It opens with the Schubert.  Ms Kwon dispatches the opening Allegro with nice drive and control, but sonics are a bit compressed, due at least in part to streaming, but other streamed titles have broader dynamic range, and the highs are a bit rolled.  (There's one passage where some notes are unusually bunched together, but I suspect that is an artifact of streaming.)  But even so, her articulation is obviously fine, she cruises along with no real difficulty, and makes the music sing when it should.  The Con Moto starts off sounding just a smidge rushed, and never entirely shakes that, instead layering really quite beautiful and at times delicate right hand playing on top of the snappy accompaniment.  The Scherzo sees her again playing with a sort of rushed feel, with some even more pronounced right hand rubato, but the effect is compelling.  She scales up the trio nicely, shedding any undue prettiness, though her playing remains far from unattractive.  The Rondo alternates between mostly fast, light, attractive playing and fast, insistent, attractive playing.  I can't say it outdoes my preferred versions (eg, Andsnes), but it's quite good.  Gretchen am Spinnrade, perhaps a tad too closely miked, sounds simultaneous studied and impassioned, but ultimately sounds too contained.  Gnomenreigen likewise sounds a bit studied, with little Lisztian flair, though Kwon's right hand playing is a speedy delight.  Kwon ramps up her playing in the Don Juan Fantasy.  She plays with some scale and superb digital dexterity.  If it never takes on the more romantic feel of Bolet or the at times super-dazzling sound of Wild, it is just about as musically satisfying, and much more so than human typewriter Simon Barrere and unnatural Lisztian Charles Rosen.  In some ways it is the best thing on the disc, though the Schubert offers the best music.  This is a good recording overall, and if Ms Kwon records the right repertoire, I may bite.  Early Beethoven and some Chopin might work.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #154 on: January 05, 2019, 06:51:09 AM »



The opening Drei Klavierstucke, from 1894, that open this disc startled me a bit.  I've listened to multiple recordings of Schoenberg's piano works with opus numbers, but never these three pieces, nor the various fragments that predate Op 11.  They offer a sort of disintegration and transformation of late romanticism into something harsher that under Ms Chen's fingers nonetheless sound mesmerizing and lovely.  Come Op 11, this still holds, though the music is atonal.  Chen's varied touch and still attractive playing had me scrambling to listen to Maurizio Pollini's recording in comparison.  Pollini offers command and a stern style, and notably more powerful playing in the Bewegte Achtel, but Chen's playing falls easier on the ear, inviting the listener to listen to notes and silences and to hear more beauty.  This is aided by her more appealing tone, itself amplified by the close recording.  As things progress and the works get knottier and denser and more unabashedly modern and even austere, Chen keeps delivering attractive sounding music.  To be sure, there are not hummable tunes, but it turns out that there don't need to be.  There really only needs to be committed playing.

It had been a good long while since I last listened to Schoenberg's solo piano music, and Pi-Hsien Chen forced me to listen with fresh ears.  She has redefined the pieces for me. 

Wow.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #155 on: January 09, 2019, 06:27:10 AM »


Volume 21 of a project that one must suppose will stretch to 33 volumes at least, there are bound to be some rarely-recorded pieces.  In fact out of 17 Sonatas here, 12 are new to my extensive Scarlatti collection which runs to over 30 albums.  Listening to them, by and large I can understand why - Scarlatti wrote a huge amount of wonderful music but still there is a proportion of his output that should really just be left to Rest In Peace.  Still, I did especially enjoy Ks 168, 51 and 194, out of the 12 which were new to me.
Soyeon Kate Lee is described as 'Korean-American' and a student of Richard Goode among others, she has also contributed Vol.8 to this series. I'm afraid I find her playing here a bit joyless and pedestrian, not helped by the typical restricted Naxos piano sound.

Offline Brian

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #156 on: January 10, 2019, 11:37:02 AM »
aukhawk, I know this isn't the Scarlatti invasion, but since you seem to keep up with the Naxos series as I do, do you have any favorites? I recently quite enjoyed the Filipec and Yasynskyy entries.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #157 on: January 10, 2019, 01:48:43 PM »



The opening Drei Klavierstucke, from 1894, that open this disc startled me a bit.  I've listened to multiple recordings of Schoenberg's piano works with opus numbers, but never these three pieces, nor the various fragments that predate Op 11.  They offer a sort of disintegration and transformation of late romanticism into something harsher that under Ms Chen's fingers nonetheless sound mesmerizing and lovely.  Come Op 11, this still holds, though the music is atonal.  Chen's varied touch and still attractive playing had me scrambling to listen to Maurizio Pollini's recording in comparison.  Pollini offers command and a stern style, and notably more powerful playing in the Bewegte Achtel, but Chen's playing falls easier on the ear, inviting the listener to listen to notes and silences and to hear more beauty.  This is aided by her more appealing tone, itself amplified by the close recording.  As things progress and the works get knottier and denser and more unabashedly modern and even austere, Chen keeps delivering attractive sounding music.  To be sure, there are not hummable tunes, but it turns out that there don't need to be.  There really only needs to be committed playing.

It had been a good long while since I last listened to Schoenberg's solo piano music, and Pi-Hsien Chen forced me to listen with fresh ears.  She has redefined the pieces for me. 

Wow.

You may enjoy her playing Boulez’s Douze Notations - I just have a feeling that it’s your sort of thing.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #158 on: January 12, 2019, 06:50:03 AM »



It had been a while since I listened to a new to me recording by Sung-Won Yang, so I figured I might as well go for the gold as far as Cello repertoire is concerned and hear his take on Dvořák's still best ever work in the genre.  The folks at Decca thought highly enough of their star to secure the Czech Philharmonic as the backing band, and veteran stick waver Zdeněk Mácal was recruited to direct.  That ensured at least decent results.  In addition to the main work, Yang joins his regular collaborators from the mighty Trio Owon, they of the greatest ever LvB Piano Trio set, for the Dumky trio, with a Slavonic Dance encore tacked on, as if it were needed. 

No need to really beat around the bush: Yang and crew deliver a superb concerto.  Now, it's not without it's quibbles.  Yang's playing is spot-on and unfailingly beautiful, but he does not generate a particularly big, rich sonority, instead opting for a nimbler, lighter sound.  As evidenced by other of his recordings, he can do whatever he wants with his instrument, so this is what he wants to do, and he of course does it exceedingly well.  While not at all too light, it lacks the heft and romance of some other readings.  As such, it may not be too everyone's taste.  That almost seems impossible when Yang makes his cello sing, as in the middle of the opening movement, when he and the principal flautist duet in almost too beautiful for its own good playing.  (I think the Decca engineers may have done a little something-something to ensure that the winds sound a bit more prominent - not that I'm at all complaining about it.)  Yang's light and tight approach, with appropriate backing, yields a gorgeous but tight Adagio ma non troppo, one that never droops into syrupy excess.  I should note that it is pretty hard for me to resist syrupy excess in Dvořák.  Not at all surprisingly, the Finale mixes energy and sentiment, delivered with beauty and refinement.  It's most excellent.  In this work, Yang wades into territory replete with top shelf recordings from the giants of the instrument.  I cannot report that Yang supplants Fournier or Slava or <insert other titan here>, but he joins them. 

I nonchalantly assumed that the Trio Owon would deliver the goods in the Dumky and Slavonic Dance 72/2 transcription.  In one of the least surprising listening experiences imaginable, they do.  Slightly distantly recorded, the trio once again reveals itself to be a well-oiled music-making machine, with all three instrumentalists playing in the big leagues and jelling together.  To be sure, the playing is more refined than, and lacks the more robust and idiomatic sound of, the Suk Trio, but that is only to be expected.  Buoyant and vibrant where and when it should be, beautiful and touching as appropriate, the Dumky, in particular, is a superb performance.  The encore ain't none too shabby, neither.  While I'm certainly glad to have this, it only serves to make me want to hear even more from the ensemble. 

Sound for the lossless download is fully modern, with perhaps just a bit of plumminess from the low strings and percussion in the concerto, and the Dumky almost sounds too high pitched at times.

I expected a superb recording.  I got a superb recording.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: The Asian Invasion
« Reply #159 on: January 15, 2019, 06:24:12 AM »
That does look as though it ticks all the right boxes.  I fondly remember the concerto as recorded by Maurice Gendron who also had a light and nimble sound IMHO, but here there is the added allure of an all-Czech backing group.  I'll look out for it.

aukhawk, I know this isn't the Scarlatti invasion, but since you seem to keep up with the Naxos series as I do, do you have any favorites? I recently quite enjoyed the Filipec and Yasynskyy entries.

I don't, as it happens, know much about the rest of the series.  Sorry.  I have and very much like Vol.1 (Eteri Andjaparidze) which tends towards the slow and dreamy, and sampled Vols 2,3 and 4 (various artists) but didn't like what I heard, all seemed prosaic, gave up on the rest after that.  As I say, I get put off by what I hear (maybe wrongly) as a 'Naxos piano sound' characterised by a lack of extension at both ends.  Naxos must source their recordings via any number of producers, engineers, venues and pianos so I wouldn't really expect any consistency at all, let alone a consistency in mediocrity.  Perhaps I should hear these recordings blind.
I'll look out for the two you mention, thanks!