Does it make sense to speak of a Curtis Institute school? The concept is dubious. Lang Lang is not Paul Jacobs is not Yuja Wang. Yet the school seems to draw out individuality from its Chinese charges in fairly short order. Consider this release by Shenzhen-born Wei Luo, just 20 years old and a Curtis undergraduate (and a Gilmore Young Artist) when this handsomely designed debut album was released. There's the requisite crisp passagework and polyphonic clarity throughout in a recital program touching Classical and 20th century bases. There's a promising sense of Luo having thought through interpretations by herself; her playing doesn't much resemble that of her teacher, Gary Graffman, and there's something more that bears watching. when Luo plays Russian music, she already creates something absolutely distinctive: hard, yet inward. Sample the fugue from the Prelude and Fugue in D major, from the 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, which sounds almost like electronic music. The Prokofiev Piano Sonata in B flat major, Op. 83, is played not for brilliance but for something darker, and Luo's steely performance impresses. The two short pieces by Rodion Shchedrin at the end are similarly distinctive, and only in the Haydn Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob. 16/52, do you feel that less would be more. Clearly, Luo is a major new talent, and if she puts out a complete set of the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, it's worth buying on the spot.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|24 Preludes and fugues, Op. 87|
|Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:52|
|Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, Op. 83|
|Two Polyphonic Pieces|