Here are the Pianomania Awards for Classical Recordings for 2014, which follows the Three Best and One Worst listings published in The Sunday Times on 28 December 2014.
RACHMANINOV Symphony No.1
SHUI LAN (Conductor)
The third CD in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s recorded cycle of Rachmaninov’s symphonies is also its finest. The Russian’s First Symphony, panned when it was first performed, was also his most original. Here it receives a performance which captures vehemence, paradoxical tenderness and vulnerability, in all its youthful and raw glory.
LI-WEI QIN, Cello
Any new CD release by Singapore-based Chinese-Australian cellist Li-Wei Qin is a cause for celebration. His second recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto is imbued with an unshakeable sense of nobility, essentially a 30-minute-long epic sigh. Coupled with William Walton’s bittersweet Cello Concerto, this disc is an essential listen.
AMERICAN PIANO CONCERTOS
XIAYIN WANG, Piano
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Peter Oundjian (Conductor)
The classical music world loves Lang Lang and Yuja Wang, but the Chinese pianist who really has it all is Shanghai-born Xiayin Wang. Seldom have the piano concertos of Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland and George Gershwin been essayed with such authority and ravishing lustre. Her playing suggests legendary American pianists Earl Wild, Van Cliburn and John Browning all rolled into one.
MUSIC OF THE NIGHT
André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra
Some people just adore Dutch violinist André Rieu and his band, but this Richard Clayderman of the violin has the skills of a reverse alchemist. He turns hit tunes like Yesterday, Music Of The Night and La Vie En Rose from gold to base metal in arrangements that are dreadfully anodyne and soppy beyond words. Best used as elevator music, with the volume turned way down.