- Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor ("Appassionata"), Op. 57
- Toccata for piano in C major, Op. 7
- Carnaval for piano, Op. 9
Don't let the hushed opening bars of the "Appassionata" fool you: pianist Tian Ying is a first-rate virtuoso and a grade-A showman who plays Beethoven with the kind of power and panache that most pianists bring to bear on Liszt. For some listeners, Ying's nervous intensity and agitated tempos may recall Horowitz, while his astoundingly clean textures and astonishingly clear colors may remind others of Brendel, yet Ying is ultimately his own man with his own interpretation and he tears into the "Appassionata" with a barely restrained frenzy but complete technical control. The combination of opposites is heady and persuasive. It could be fairly said that Ying exaggerates dynamic contrasts, recklessly drives tempos, and builds to climaxes quick, but it can't be said that he didn't intend every effect and didn't carry it off brilliantly. Much the same could be said of Ying's Schumann -- but with one caveat. His "Toccata" is burning with energy and blazing with virtuosity while his "Carnaval" is bright with light and radiant with color -- but while Ying's extravagant style suits Schumann's "Toccata" and the more extroverted movements of his "Carnaval," he seems to miss the essential soulfulness of the music in the more inward movements. But still, for sheer super virtuoso thrills, few pianists can match what Ying does with the "Toccata" and his recital is well worth hearing for that alone. Centaur's sound is clean but a bit dim.