Joel Fan, piano – West of the Sun, Music of the Americas – Reference Recordings

by | Apr 20, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Joel Fan, piano – West of the Sun, Music of the Americas – [TrackList below]  Reference Recordings RR-119, 67:17 [Distr. by Allegro] ***** [Release date: Apr. 14, 09]:

We liked Joel Fan’s previous CD for Reference Recordings – World Keys – and similarly find this new one a most worthwhile recital full of virtuoso playing. As its title suggested, World Keys included selections from around the world, and for this new effort Joel has narrowed things down a bit by drawing only on composers from North and South America. He has thus created an album with more programming innovation than most such piano recitals. The composers include Gottschalk, Piazzolla, Ginastera, Villa-Lobos, Beach, Bolcom and Barber and none of the selections are overplayed “hits” of those composers either.  For example, instead of the Villa-Lobos selection being the familiar Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, it is Alma Brasileira.  While most of the pieces are rather short and entertaining, two serious piano sonatas – by Ginastera and Barber, stand out. This is also the recording premiere of Nine New Bagatelles by William Bolcom, and the composer coached Fan in making the recording.

The label’s recording engineer Keith O. Johnson used the low-noise-floor Skywalker Sound studio in the Bay Area, and the piano sound is very rich and natural against a silent background. Joel’s own program notes in the booklet are interesting reading.

NAZARETH: Vem ca, Branquinha; GOTTSCHALK: Suis Moi! – Caprice; PIAZZOLLA: Flora’s Game; GINASTERA: Piano Sonata No. 1; VILLA-LOBOS: Choros No. 5; BEACH: Fireflies; BONDS: Troubled Water; BOLCOM: Nine New Bagatelles; BARBER: Piano Sonata

 – John Sunier

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