Friday, 11 December 2009

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, December 2009)

Deutsche Grammophon 477 8140

Move aside Li Yundi, here comes his replacement! Yuja Wang (or Wang Yujia), now 22, is the latest Chinese piano sensation to set the musical world alight. A former student of Gary Graffman (who also mentored Lang Lang), she allies a prodigious technique with more profound musical values rare for someone this young. There is no showboating for its own sake in Chopin’s Second Sonata “Funeral March”, yet it sounds as gripping as Ivo Pogorelich’s classic account from almost 20 years ago.
Interestingly, she also replicates the eccentric Serb’s coupling of Liszt’s Sonata in B minor with Scriabin’s Sonata-Fantasy in G sharp minor (Op.19). Although she offers no new insights to the music, she is well-attuned to the differing idioms and sounds every bit convincing. Two short but fiendishly challenging Études by György Ligeti – Fanfares and The Sorceror’s Apprentice (Der Zauberlehling) – completes the picture. She is ready for pianistic super-stardom.

Note: The Hong Kong edition of this CD includes a bonus track, the Mozart-Volodos Rondo alla Turca. Its not quite Volodos but still very good.

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Sir Charles Mackerras
Decca 478 1511

Does anybody in Singapore remember the appearance of Australian-born soprano Danielle de Niese at SSO’s Christmas Concert in 1998 conducted by Bart Folse? Then a student and mere teenager, she enchanted with her sparkling vocals and bubbly presence. Now a legit diva, she commands the stage in this all-Mozart programme, beginning with the popular motet Exsultate, Jubilate and fiery concert aria Bella mia fiamma, addio!, showcasing a brilliant coloratura facility.

Mozart’s operas are founded on a rare lyricism and vocal flexibility which give depth and sympathy to his characters. De Niese is a lovely Susanna (Marriage Of Figaro), Despina (Cosi Fan Tutte) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni), the last partnering a lusty Bryn Terfel in the tender duet La ci darem la mano. A lesser known gem is the aria Oh, temerario Arbace!, astonishingly from a 10-year-old Mozart’s hand, where all of her strengths come to a happy confluence. Simply irresistible.

1 comment:

Buzz said...

I was very interested in your review of the Wang CD, which has received lots of attention in the musical press, but one never knows if it's advertising hype or genuine appreciation for a new artist. You convinced me: I'll buy the CD even though I have multiple recordings of these pieces. Buzz. Passaic, New Jersey, USA.