Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Richard Danielpour's Preludes for Piano: The Enchanted Garden

Composer Richard Danielpour writes solo piano music that evokes the magic of Debussy's pastoral eloquence in one breath and the drive of a Scott Joplin piano rag in another, yet transposes it all with a very considerable ear and pen, channeled by a man living in the world of 1992, or 2009. Danielpour's two books of preludes, written in the years just mentioned, have an up-to-the-minute contemporary quality, yet also a timelessness that transcends all time.

The Naxos recording of these pieces, The Enchanted Garden (Naxos 8.559669), brings out the implications of the music brilliantly, thanks to the superb interpretations given by Xiayin Wang. She brings life into each phrase as if she wrote it herself. Her pianism is extraordinary and I would go so far as to say breathtaking.

It is the virtually ideal meld between composer and pianist that underscores the extraordinary nature of this music. It has all the poetic qualities that great solo piano works have given us from the time of Schubert through to today. There are reveries, moods of tranquility and enchantment, followed by contrasting turbulence and motility. There is balance, poise and expression in these pieces taken as a whole that invite comparision with Debussy's Preludes; yet they are works that could only have been written in our time, that bear the considerably singular watermark of the composer, Maestro Danielpour.

The Enchanted Garden makes a bid to be one of the 21st century's pianistic wonders of the world, in my opinion. And I can hardly imagine at this point a better performance than that given by the very gifted Xiayin Wang. Need I say more?

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