Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang emerged as something of a specialist in American music with her spectacular recording of Earl Wild's Gershwin fantasias in 2010, and she continues to amass a strong track record with this Chandos release, nicely recorded at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. It's interesting how novel the trio of piano concertos by Gershwin, Copland, and Barber are as a program, for they all have a great deal to say to each other, and each finds its way between jazz and modernistic influences. Given that you get here a Chinese pianist teaming with Scottish musicians, with not an American in sight, it's safe to say that the music is beginning to get the respect it deserves. Wang's performances of the Barber Piano Concerto, Op. 38, is wonderful. With clean, delicate passagework in the upper registers, she finds the composer's characteristic lyricism in this sometimes thorny score, and in the modernistic jazz of Copland's Piano Concerto, composed in 1926, is very nearly as good, tough and rhythmically brash. The weakest performance of the three, oddly enough in view of Wang's stellar work in Gershwin-related material previously, is the Gershwin Piano Concerto in F (not F major as the packaging and booklet have it here); there is nothing to object to, but the performance lacks the contained jazz energy that makes great readings of the piece work. The restraint may come from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian, who are peppy throughout but are not confirmed Gershwin interpreters. This is, however, a revelatory program, very well performed.
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