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Cat. No. CHSA 5128 Price: £11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5128 - American Piano Concertos
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Available From: 16 September 2013
American Piano Concertos

The young Chinese-born pianist Xiayin Wang, now resident in the USA, has been enthralling audiences worldwide and gaining ever greater international acclaim with her winning combination of consummate technical brilliance, fine musicianship, and personal verve. Equally renowned as a recitalist and chamber musician, she is here the soloist in three great piano concertos by the American composers George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Samuel Barber, performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian.

The Concerto in F by Gershwin, composed in 1925, represents one of his finest syntheses of the classical and jazz traditions. His extraordinary skill as a tunesmith is heard in full force within the concerto’s three movements, the work expressing his ‘unabashed delight in the stridency, the gaucheries, the joy and excitement of life as it is lived right here and now’. Xiayin Wang has already shown her natural affinity with Gershwin’s music in her previous Chandos release, playing Earl Wild’s Gershwin transcriptions with ‘verve, brilliance and sheer delight’, as American Record Guide put it.

Copland’s Piano Concerto from 1927 is another work influenced by jazz. At the time of its premiere, comparisons were inevitably drawn between this and Gershwin’s Concerto but Copland dismissed the influence of Gershwin. Rather, his style reflects the jazz elements used by composers living in Paris in the 1920s, such as Milhaud and Stravinsky. The work’s two distinct sections reflect what Copland believed to be the two basic moods of jazz, ‘the slow blues and the snappy number’.

Barber’s Pulitzer Prize winning Concerto for Piano dates from 1962. Like the other two works on the disc it shows the diversity of influence in American music in the twentieth century. Moments of harmonic ambiguity and muscular dissonance reflect Barber’s interest in Russian music, a subtle jazz influence enriching the musical language, especially in the rhythms of the compact finale. The music manifests a dramatic and rhetorical style, however, that is deeply rooted in a romanticism which pervades all of Barber’s output.


 "Wang, a young and rather glamorous Chinese pianist, knows how to play American music... Her approach is careful and technically amazing, but with plenty of fire as well. The orchestra matches her sound perfectly, too, in a flawless partnership... The soundstage is spacious, but not as vast as I’ve heard from other Chandos recordings; the piano is right up front, and none of the orchestra gets lost. The low and middle ranges are rich, and the top is present but not too bright."
Stephen Estep - American Record Guide - March/April 2014

 “… Wang is a lovely young performer. She basically is a Romantic pianist, with a warm tone and liquid phrasing. Even in the jazzier parts of the Copland and the Gershwin, which she identifies with completely, her sound remains rounded. She is an excellent musician. Her sense of structure is secure… She posses all the ingredients of a promising young artist – it will be interesting to watch her maturation and the progress of her career… I never have heard the Royal Scottish National Orchestra play as well as they do here for their new music director. Oundjian’s conducting has sweep and grandeur, with no shortage of attention to detail. Let’s hope that his association with Chandos continues. For now, Wang and Oundjian have given us a disc of American piano concertos worth celebrating …”  - Dave Saemann

“…recommended …” – Phillip Scott

“…strongly endorsed.” – Peter J Rabinowitz

“…The soloist, Xiayin Wang, delivers the goods with a winning combination of taste and dazzling technique…  Peter Oundijan … seems to be an unappreciated conductor. He has an excellent ear for balance and color, but is not an especially flashy musician, which, in the world of high-octane orchestral performance, does not take one to the front of the public stage. This recording reminds me why I admire him; he and his soloist find natural, flowing tempos, excellent clarity of texture, and attractive highlighting of the soloists in this world-class ensemble. Add the usual fine engineering from  Chandos and you have yourselves a winner of a release.”  - Peter Burwasser


Fanfare – March/April 2014

                       Recording of the Month
"...This disc makes a fascinating traversal of the 20th Century American piano concerto ...an interesting and potentially important memento of Oundjian’s first year with the RSNO. More than that, these are really excellent performances."
 Simon Thompson - MusicWeb-International.com - January 2014

                       Editor’s Choice
"... the three American piano concertos on this splendidly recorded and msterly performed new release from Xiayin Wang are undoubtedly masterworks of the highest calibre. Gershwin’s only fully-laid out piano concerto boasts several recordings, but his one, not only because of the razor-sharp orchestral playing is among the very finest ... a clear first choice."  *****
Marius Dawn - Pianist magazine - February/March 2014

"Xiayin Wang has impressed before, in music by Earl Wild and Rachmaninov. Good though those discs were, one feels she has properly come into her own with the present offering of American piano concertos. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra plays superbly under its new music director, Peter Oundijian ... A most rewarding disc, and further evidence of the talent of Wang."
Colin Clarke - Piano Internatonal magazine - January/February 2014

“…Barber’s electrifying and athletically awesome Concerto (1962) opens the disc. You only have to hear the soloist’s first entry to know that in Xiayin Wang you have a virtuoso with all the power and pizzazz to encompass the work’s demands - and more. It’s an exhilarating ride  which does not relax its grip from beginning to end - and the Chandos sound packs a real punch ... a fine,  detailed and stylish account of this much-recorded work that can sit confidently among the best."

Jeremy Nicholas - Gramophone magazine - December 2013

" ... the Copeland and Gershwin works receive performances as good as any around, and the Barber remains a fascinating curio"
Graham Rickson - the ArtsDesk.com - 9 November 2013

                   Performance ****½      Sonics *****
"A wonderful release that should make new friends for two neglected concertos... Wholeheartedly recommended."
Grahams Williams - SA-CD.net - 5 October 2013


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