Classical Editor: Rob
BIS CD 1110 [80 mins]
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
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