Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Jenny Lin (piano)
BIS CD 1110 [80 mins] (PGW)

John Adams: China Gates (1977). Anton Arensky: Étude sur un thème chinois, Op.25 No.3. Ferruccio Busoni: Turandots Frauengemach (Intermezzo) [No.4 of Elegies] (1907). Abram Chasins: Rush Hour in Hong Kong [No.3 of Three Chinese Pieces] (1925). Morton Gould: Pieces of China (1985). Percy Grainger: Beautiful Fresh Flower ­ Chinese Melody. Albert Ketèlbey: In a Chinese Temple Garden. Bohuslav Martiný: The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon (1948). Leo Ornstein: À la Chinoise, Op.39 (1918). Gioacchino Rossini: Petite Polka Chinoise (No.3 from Album de chaumière; 1857-68). Cyril Scott: Lotus Land, Op.47 No.1 (1905). Alexander Tcherepnin: Five ("Chinese") Concert Études, Op.52 (1934-36). Jacqueline Waeber-Diaz: Improvisation on a Chinese Folk-Song (1996).

Chinoiserie was assembled by an enterprising Taiwanese-American pianist who recorded her selection in February 2000 for the Chinese New Year, Year of the Dragon. It makes for an entertaining thematic sequence played with a light touch and what I would describe as relaxed virtuosity - pianism which makes light of difficulties and never allows the tone to harden. The pentatonic scale is rarely far away from the thoughts of the dozen and one composers represented (the extra one is a specially composed encore by Jacqueline Waeber-Diaz, recorded for the first time).

Many of the pieces are (or have been in the past) popular, such as Cyril Scott's Lotus Land and Ketelby's kitschy In a Chinese Temple Garden, well remembered from my rather distant childhood (together with his monastery garden & Persian market). Busoni thought he was using a Chinese melody for his fourth Elegy, but it turned out incongruously to be the English Greensleeves! Chinese Gates is one of John Adams' first ventures into minimalism. A la Chinoise commemorates a visit to San Francisco's Chinatown by Leo Ornstein in 1918 , and takes now a particular pride of place here in the composer's reasonable claim, according to Jacqueline Waeber-Diaz's 2000 note, to be 'without doubt the world's oldest living composer' - he was born in Russia '1892 or 1895'!

A delectable CD which would make a welcome present for Christmas or the next Chinese New Year.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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