“Eine in allen Hinsichten faszinierende Produktion.” Pizzicato “This is the most interesting and successful recording of new Chinese music I have yet heard…” BBC Music Magazine
The Chinese pianist Chen Sa (also known internationally as Sa Chen) has received much acclaim for her interpretations of composers such as Chopin, Rachmaninov and Ravel, but on the present disc she makes something of a return to her roots. In a (mostly) Chinese programme she presents a series of works – both solo and concertante – of which several deal with memories, nostalgia and the recreation of impressions. Opening with the only non-Chinese work – albeit here in a transcription for Chinese orchestra – Chen Sa takes us to Fazil Say's Anatolia, as it appears in the Turkish pianist-composer's Third Piano Concerto. A group of solo works by Chinese composers follows, with Hsiao Tyzen of Taiwan (b. 1938) and Wang Xiaohan of Beijing (b. 1980) both exploring their respective memories of home and of childhood. With Impromptu, the Australian-based Julian Yu took on the task of recreating his own improvisation into a written-out composition, while his colleague Chen Qigang, resident in France, found the inspiration for his work in the world of Chinese opera. The music of Chinese opera, in its many forms, also informs the closing work on the disc. Wang Xilin's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra received its première in 2010 from Chen Sa and the Basel Sinfonietta, but is here recorded in a version for Chinese orchestra. The concerto was conceived out of the composer's deep regret of the Cultural Revolution, which ended the careers and even the lives of so many musicians of his own generation. (Wang Xilin was born in 1937.) In the two concertos, Chen Sa receives the eminent support of the Taipei Chinese Orchestra under its chief conductor Chung Yiu-Kwong. This team has appeared on four previous releases from BIS, and has received worldwide critical acclaim for their performances, 'evoking delicate playfulness, high drama, or the tranquillity of a misty Chinese valley with equal atmosphere' (Classic FM Magazine) and 'producing a rich multihued soundscape, a vibrant rhythmic drive, and spectacular ensemble virtuosity' (American Record Guide).