Xiayin Wang

Richard Danielpour: The Enchanted Garden - Preludes Books I & II

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Trained in Shanghai and New York, pianist Xiayin Wang is definitely one to watch. Her strengths are numerous: sheer power, an ability to pick a melody out of a complex texture, and an ability to keep a poetic spirit in the midst of extreme virtuoso difficulties. On top of all this is a feel for African-American rhythms, something not so common in pianists from the Asian sphere. Check out her recording of Earl Wild's bone-crushing fantasies on Gershwin. Her facility with jazz and especially ragtime also serves her well in these preludes by American composer Richard Danielpour, who composed the two sets of preludes 17 years apart and collectively titled them The Enchanted Garden. The second set was commissioned by Wang herself, and she clearly inhabits these highly pianistic works that suggest Debussy and sometimes Poulenc, with the harmonic language and the ragtime content of each ramped up a bit. Sample the "Lean Kat Stride," from book II (track 9), to hear the verve Wang brings to American idioms. The sound, recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, is ideal for this music, and the album as a whole may be worth collecting just so you can say you knew her when.

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