Yi Lin Jiang

Masques

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For this 2014 release on Solaris Records, Yi Lin Jiang explores piano works by Karol Szymanowski, Alexander Scriabin, Claude Debussy, Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, and Lü Wencheng, all of which are styled here as masks, behind which they concealed their expressions. While only the Szymanowski, Scriabin, and Debussy pieces are specifically identified as masques, possibly evoking the costumes of the Commedia dell'arte or the illusions and deceptions of fairy tales, Jiang considers the contexts of the pieces and references that reveal the masks the composers used to conceal deeper meanings. The most obvious example of this may be Schubert's Drei Klavierstücke, in which his depression is concealed with a show of cheerfulness, or Szymanowski's evocation of colorful legends, in which the imagery serves as a mask for a more provocative sensuality. In the case of Liszt's Après une lecture de Dante, all that's needed is a quote from the poem by Victor Hugo, "...was the tormented mask of suffering hate." However, one need not follow Jiang's theme too literally to appreciate the suggestiveness and atmosphere of the music, which, interestingly, spans the era from early Romanticism to early modernism, a period when the composer's identity was regarded as essential to understanding his music. Beyond this, Jiang offers a sparkling recital of fascinating music that shows his virtuosity as well as his sensitivity to moods and colors. The program's subtext aside, this album is an effective demonstration of Jiang's skills and musicality, and there's no hiding that fact.

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