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West of the Sun: Music of the Americas
     

West of the Sun: Music of the Americas

by Joel Fan
 
The idea of doing a piano recital of music from the Americas is not new, yet American pianist Joel Fan promises a "fresh look" in this disc. He doesn't specifically say what the fresh look consists of, and his rather broad characterization of the New World's music as marked by "seductive Latin rhythms, sophisticated European compositional techniques, American

Overview

The idea of doing a piano recital of music from the Americas is not new, yet American pianist Joel Fan promises a "fresh look" in this disc. He doesn't specifically say what the fresh look consists of, and his rather broad characterization of the New World's music as marked by "seductive Latin rhythms, sophisticated European compositional techniques, American enterprise, and the powerful currents of colonialism, black and white, male and female" gives only a vague idea of what to expect. But Fan's music-making can speak for itself. His piano textures are worth hearing in themselves, for he is an exceptionally fluent, lyrical player with a fine sense of mystery in the slow movements of the piano sonatas by Ginastera and Barber. And the program he offers here is a really fascinating thing on several levels. He includes some fairly unusual pieces, and there's a reason for each one. Drawing equally on South and North American traditions, Fan establishes a bedrock trait of music in the New World: it is influenced by popular rhythms. Then he shows how this trait has developed and been commented upon since the late nineteenth century. In the full-fledged piano sonatas, the popular rhythms are a bit farther in the background but are by no means absent, and neither work could have been written in Europe. The result is a program that alternates very gracefully between simpler and more complicated pieces; the music almost seems to breathe and ruminate on the nature of Americanness. Individual highlights include Piazzolla's little-heard "Flora's Game," from the set of "Three Preludes for solo piano" he wrote late in his life; Amy Marcy Cheney Beach's "Fire-Flies, Op. 15/4," which has never seemed quite so distinctively American; and Margaret Bonds' "Troubled Water," a fantasy on the spiritual "Wade in the Water" that takes on all kinds of new meanings in this context. With fine engineering from none other than Skywalker sound, this is a masterful performance.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/14/2009
Label:
Reference Recordings
UPC:
0030911111922
catalogNumber:
119

Tracks

  1. Vem cá, branquinha, tango for piano
  2. Suis-Moi!, contradanza for piano, Op. 45, D. 157 (RO 253)
  3. Preludes (3) for piano: Flora's Game, Milonga Prelude
  4. Piano Sonata No.1, Op. 22
  5. Chôros No. 5, for piano, "Alma brasiliera", A. 207
  6. Fireflies, for piano, Op. 15/4
  7. Troubled Water, for piano
  8. New Bagatelles (9), for piano
  9. Sonata for piano, Op. 26

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Joel Fan   Primary Artist

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