Yiayin Wang is a young pianist who hails from China and has graduated from Shanghai Conservatory; she has lived in the United States since 1997. Marquis Classics' Introducing Xiayin Wang is her debut disc, and her program is an ambitious mix of Bach, Mozart, Ravel, Scriabin, and George Gershwin, essentially combining composers from opposite ends of the piano spectrum and sidestepping romantic literature. Likewise, the opposite ends of the disc contain the best stuff, the Bach and two pieces taken from Gershwin's slim output for solo piano -- "I Got Rhythm" from his neglected Song Book volume and the first of the Three Preludes. It's a shame that we couldn't have gotten the other two, as they would have fit on the disc, but "leave them wanting more" seems to be the operative idea in this case.
Wang's Bach is superb -- she really makes the Adagio in this solo concerto, adapted from Benedetto Marcello, sing. The Mozart is a little less so; while her playing of the familiar K. 330 Sonata in C major is clean, polished, and attractive, it could use a little more heft; it's merely the weakest thing in a program that, overall, is not very weak. Restraint seems to be a hallmark of Wang's playing; in the first of Scriabin's Op. 32 Poèmes the little upwardly darting figures at the ends of the opening phrases are spelled out in pearl-like single notes, rather than as a flourish as is commonly done -- a nice touch. While her Vers la Flamme doesn't really catch fire, all of the various polymorphic elements that make up this piece are stated clearly as separate entities, and Wang has a very nice natural sense of Scriabin's elliptical approach to rhythm.
Introducing Xiayin Wang is recorded very quietly; one will need to crank it up to get the full effect. Nevertheless, Wang is quite an exciting player and has precisely those qualities that make the prospect of seeing this artist in concert appealing -- breadth of repertoire, sensitivity of touch, and a beautiful overall sound.