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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goddess of the Keyboard, 2 Nov 2013
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This review is from: American Piano Concertos [Xiayin Wang, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Peter Oundjian] [Chandos: CHSA 5128] (Audio CD)
This is a stupendous recording! For originality, verve, idiomatic insight and sheer sonic and artistic magic - it would be very hard to beat. In my book, it ranks as one of the greatest concerto recordings ever made. It is fascinating to compare the comet-like trajectories of the 3 most impressive Chinese pianists on the current international concert circuit - Xiayin Wang (here), Yuja Wang and Lang Lang. The third of these has just produced, with Rattle and the Berliners, a CD of Bartok's Second and Prokofiev's Third Concertos, plus a bonus DVD of filmed recording. I have this, but can't comment since I haven't yet played it. The second of my trio, Yuja, has just issued an amazing coupling of 2 of the mightiest challenges to the concert pianist, Rachmaninov's Third and Prokofiev's Second Concertos, with Dudamel and his Simon Bolivar Orchestra. It's a knock-out! But the first prize-winner (for me) is Number 1 of the three, Xiayin. This disc trumps the other two for sheer value, audacity and quality. It combines the 3 greatest North American piano concertos of the 20th century. Her credentials in American music have been established brilliantly before, of course, but here she displays an incredible command and sympathetic understanding of an alien (to her) idiom that eclipses even America's native-born best.
I heard her live in Glasgow last concert season, with the magnificent Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Peter Oundjian, performing both the Copland and the Barber concertos in a single concert. It was the highlight of the season for me, not forgetting the almost -as-spectacular programme that featured Gilbert Varga conducting the Respighi Roman Festivals! But to hear Miss X. Wang play the same pair of concertos, plus the Gershwin masterpiece in F, on this Chandos wonderfully recorded disc, is a priceless bonus and privilege. I'll not labour over details. Sufficient to say - the Copland emerges as a wonderful contribution to the repertoire, contrary to the despicable critical slating it got in its early years of life. The Barber shines with revelatory passion and brilliance, structural strength, melodic fecundity and harmonic beauty that even John Browning, its dedicatee, never captured. And Gershwin's in F is at last presented as a work of towering genius. A fantastic achievement, then, with the RSNO on top form with its unrivalled feel for Americana that has long come naturally to them, and Peter Oundjian directing with masterly perception and from rich experience a treat that will enchant every right-thinking music-lover. This disc is worth its weight in gold, a "Desert Island" treasure. Where does Xiayin Wang go from here? Heaven only knows - but wherever it is, I'm certain it will be into realms of stellar delight that will continue to leave pianophiles and wider admirers of oriental talent in the 21st century agog and reeling with admiration and amazement. Congratulations to all concerned in the release of this truly remarkable album.
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland

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