Tien Hsieh

Mostly Transcriptions

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Taiwanese-born American pianist Tien Hsieh here offers a seemingly odd program -- heavily weighted toward Franz Liszt but diverging from him several times. True to its title, the album consists mostly of transcriptions, and most of these are by Liszt. There's a contemporary work by American composer Glen Cortese, and Ferruccio Busoni's version of Bach's Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C major, BWV 564. The Liszt transcriptions themselves are a pretty unusual bunch, including one of a Chopin song (unusual in itself) and one of Schubert's Litany for the Feast of All Souls, D. 343, as well as more familiar items based on works by Bach, Schubert, and Schumann. It doesn't sound as though it should hang together, but it does. The Busoni and Liszt Bach transcriptions, as well as the Cortese piece, have the effect of solid pillars, with the song transcriptions providing a more lyrical contrast, and Hsieh's readings find links between Busoni and Liszt: she has a way of deploying accent and articulation that suggest the quirky personal charisma each pianist-composer must have had. The program leaves off with transcriptions for the final Venezia e Napoli selections by Liszt, and this too feels like something that might have happened at the end of a a program of transcriptions by Liszt himself. The booklet for this pleasantly personal release on the curiously named Titanic label is nicely decorated with drawings of Hsieh, but the text is riddled with typographical errors.

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