- Audio CD (18 Dec. 2008)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Telarc
- ASIN: B00004UEKB
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,257 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Piano Dance CD
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This is a truly fascinating recording, and it is fascinating 23 times. Gloria Cheng has put together a series of 20th-century dance-linked piano miniatures which repeatedly surprises and delights. If you go in for playing "spot the tune" with your friends, this should keep you going for months, with everything from a Paul Hindemith shimmy to a Philip Glass waltz. It is an area of repertory that lends itself to fast virtuosic material--of which there is no shortage--but it is not all helter-skelter. To put your foot on the brake try Mompou's Cancion y Danza no.6, three and a half minutes of indolent Spanish lyricism at its best. Another slow number is Donald R Davis' intriguingly titled Illicit Felicity, a mambo written for a lesbian thriller movie. But probably the prize for wackiest title goes to Per Norgard for A Tortoise's Tango (Without Jealousy). Many of the pieces last just a minute or two, the only one stretching much beyond four minutes being the nine-minute concluding Conga by Miguel del Aguila, who plays his own "spot the tune" with multiple musical quotations as he portrays a dance of death through the fires of hell. --Keith Clarke
A super-enjoyable, toe-tapping disc if ever there was one! Cheng is a marvellous champion of all the hugely varied music on this spiffingly enterprising disc, be it the familiar (Debussy's Golliwog, Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales) or the little-known (Joan Huang, Donald Davis, Samuel Adler, Miguel del Aguila, etc). A 'portrait' of the 20th century in dance, it weaves its terpsichorean way through the work of 23 composers, from Debussy to Aguila (b1957). Almost every track is a delight, delightfully played. William Albright's Weillian Sleepwalker's Shuffle is irresistible fun (but why is there nothing from Weill himself?) And I'm sorry, too, to find William Bolcom missing: his delicious The Graceful Ghost would have been a perfect choice (ditto his Sea Biscuits). Ligeti's Hungarian Rock (originally for harpsichord) demonstrates very entertainingly Cheng's truly exceptional rhythmical virtuosity, just as Stravinsky's Tango, Prokofiev's Rigaudon and Donald R Davis's Illicit Felicity attest to her sense of humour. Add to all this pieces by Hindemith, Martinů, Bartók, Barber, Scriabin and so on, and you have a cornucopia of pianistic hors d'oeuvres which whets the appetite for still further investigations. Cheng is a winner (no wonder one of her greatest fans is Boulez) and she gets the sound she deserves from the expert engineer. A smashing disc.
© BBC Music Magazine 2000
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ms. Cheng's playing is phenomenal, and I also enjoy her earlier CD of works by John Adams and Terry Riley. Both CD's show off her rich tone and appealing style, but the dance collection is the most entertaining. If you buy this CD, you'll probably find yourself listening to it frequently.
A very definite positive about this program is that almost every selection was new to me. After all, how many of us are familiar with works like Miguel del Aguila's "Conga," Philip Glass's "Modern Love Reel," or Paul Hindemith's "Shimmy"? I mean, really! So there is much Joy of Discovery afforded by this CD; but with all but one piece running under 5 minutes (and that one at 9:26), a certain cloying factor creeps in after a while, and perhaps I should recommend this be played in small sections.
But all in all, what a treasure-trove of little-known pieces.
Despite their brevity, the pieces on this album deserve to be truly listened to -- not to just be on as background music. Not that all of the music is difficult or esoteric. There's a nice balance between pieces that are very accessible (such as Martinu's "Polka in E major" and Ornstein's "Waltz #7") and pieces that take a while to understand and warm up to (such as Hindemith's "Shimmy" and Norgard's "Tortoise's Tango"). For understanding the more difficult pieces, the liner notes are very helpful.
Well known composers of the 20th century make an appearance on this album (think Bartok, Stravinsky, Ravel), but they are also joined by less familiar names. I particularly enjoyed being exposed for the first time to the music of Federico Mompou and Miguel del Aguila. Mompou's "Cancion y Danza, No. 6" was lush and lovely. Aguila's striking piece entitled "Conga" was fascinating to listen to.
My favorite piece on the album, however, would have to be Stravinsky's "Tango." The sultry feel of the tango is represented perfectly, which surprised me since the piece is for solo piano. I thought I would have missed the bandoneon. Gloria Cheng executes it magnificently.