Ang Li plays Wagner/Liszt, Haydn, Chopin, Debussy and Chinese folksongs: CD
  • Ang Li plays Wagner/Liszt, Haydn, Chopin, Debussy and Chinese folksongs: CD
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CD REVIEW Ang Li, piano: CD ISRC A J6 CCD-2657 LISZT/WAGNER/HAYDN/CHOPIN/DEBUSSY/2 Chinese Traditional Folk Songs Recorded December 3, 2007, Pepsico Recital Hall, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. Engineer: Matt Bowers Producers: Matt Bowers, Ang Li Ang Li was born in Beijing in 1985 and moved to the United States at the age of ten. She is a Canadian citizen and completed her Masters Degree at The Juilliard School, and a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music. She also studied at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and The Manhattan School of Music. Her list of awards and prizes is long and impressive, and one need only to hear this recording of her playing to know why. From the opening sonorities of Liszt’s 1867 arrangement of Wagner’s Isolde’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, we are in the presence of a magnificent interpretive artist. Ang Li’s Liszt/Wager is surging, ecstatic, multi-climatic, thundering, overpowering, tremulous. What more can one say? Her Haydn Sonata in C Major, HOB. XVI:50 has an Allegro that is robust and aggressive, full of vigor, but also nuanced when necessary and cognizant of the occasional whimsy and humor in the writing. The Adagio captures the tenderness and mystery, lingering where needed, fading to almost-silence at times. The Allegro Molto is once more emphatic, quixotic, with even a bit of rubato now and then for variety. There are two Chopin Nocturnes, composed in 1835: No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1: Larghetto, which is gently meditative, albeit with some of the Wagnerian passion in the middle section as Chopin modulates away from the principal key. He returns to dreamy meditation again with slight excursions of tonality, and lightens to the major for a plagal IV-I ending. The other Nocturne is the very familiar No. 8 in D flat major, op. 27. No. 2: Lento sostenuto. Its key changes are more direct and the melodic line has the requisite melodic duality dressed in filigree and ornamentation with the left hand supplying subtleties of harmony, changeable to the end. Ang Li’s Debussy is a wonder to behold. Debussy was arguably the most inventive composer of piano music who ever lived, endlessly colorful, endlessly magical. Four of the preludes are recorded here: “General Lavine – eccentric”, is playful, rhythmically insightful, humorous. The glorious “La cathedrale engloutie” received skillful pedaling and exquisite balance of the octave doublings, its bass ostinato and ending chords superbly produced. “Ondine” is seductive and cunning, startling, alternating between lush harmonies and menacing crescendos with an innocent flourish at the end. “Feux d’artifice”, a celebration of Bastillo Day on July 14, is amazing pianistic writing with flashes of fire, hovering tonality, motivically-driven discourse, the distant bit of “La Marseillaise” near the end. Debussy is Ang Li’s composer, but then all of them seem to be. Last on the album are two Chinese folk songs: Kang Ding Love Song, arranged by Chu Wanghua, and Liu Yang River, arranged by Wang Jianzhong. The first is impressionistic and expressive, the latter simpler harmonically and more tuneful. They are a gesture to her native land, and in their attractive simplicity are not far from some of the folk songs of America, as all countries share in their folk music similar characteristics of melodic charm. Emma Lou Diemen Society News, U.S.A

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