SERENA WANG – Dances of the Dolls [TrackList follows] – Serena Wang, piano – Channel Classics of China CCS81014 50:00 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] (5/13/14) ***:
This album from Channel Classics is a solid offering, but also a bit of a novelty CD. It features the music of young Chinese musical prodigy Serena Wang.
Born in 2004, Wang started playing the piano under Sumi Nagasawa at the age of four. In 2010, at age five, she became the youngest prizewinner of the Bach Piano Competition at Berkeley University, and also, as the youngest competitor, the first prizewinner of the Northern California China Music Teacher Institute Piano Competition. The same year, Serena Wang won the gold medal of the Child Group of the 2nd State Juvenile Piano Competition at Gulangyu, Xiamen, China. With the recommendation of Mr. Xu Pei Dong, chairman of Chinese Musicians Association, she started her piano study under the famous piano pedagogue professor Dan Zhao Yi.
In 2013, Serena Wang played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1 with the Sichuan Music Conservatory Orchestra directed by Zhu Qi Yuan and again the same concerto at the Beijing University Millennium Auditorium and at the Qinghua University New Concert Hall, all with the China Philharmonic Orchestra under maestro Yang Yang. All performances garnered standing ovations. The same year Serena Wang played with the Mexican Youth Symphony Orchestra in Mexico and, back in China, she played the Beethoven Concerto No.1 with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra directed by Yu Long in the Guangzhou Xinghai concert hall.
Now recording with Channel Classics, this disc, which was recorded in Holland, features a variety of piano music from the masters like Poulenc, Shostakovich, Liszt, Mozart and Chopin, but also some short works by Chinese composers.
When I reached for the disc I assumed it was a multi-channel high resolution disc, especially given it is a Channel Classics production, but it is just a standard CD. Of course the recording is of a high standard, but the company only offers higher quality through downloads over the web. It’s a pity that they decided to release only a standard CD.
The playing is very good, but of the works performed I have heard elsewhere these are not best performances, although they are quite good. They lack a bit of passion to my ear. The disc itself is just under 50 minutes, a bit short for a CD, and Channel Classics is selling the disc at below their usual CD pricing.
TrackList:1. He Lu Ting – Cowboy Playing Flute 2. Dan Zhao Yi – Beautiful Flower in its full Glory 3. Dan Zhao Yi – Grassland 4. Fu Gen Chen – Travel by Bamboo Raft 5. Tan dun – Impressions – Blue Nun 6. Tan dun – Impressions – Staccato 7. Tan dun – Impressions – Sun Rain 8. Theodore Oesten – Dolly’s Dreaming 9. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls 10. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls – II 11. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls – III 12. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls – IV 13. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls – V 14. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls – VI 15. Shostakovich – Dances of the Dolls – VII 16. Poulenc – Villageoises, Petites Piéces Infantines – Valse Tyrolienne 17. Poulenc – Villageoises, Petites Piéces Infantines – Staccato 18. Poulenc – Villageoises, Petites Piéces Infantines – Rustique 19. Poulenc – Villageoises, Petites Piéces Infantines – Polka 20. Poulenc – Villageoises, Petites Piéces Infantines – Petite Rond 21. Poulenc – Villageoises, Petites Piéces Infantines – Coda 22. Mozart – Piano Sonata in F – allegro assai 23. Mozart – Piano Sonata in F – Adagio 24. Mozart – Piano Sonata in F – Presto 25. Liszt – Liebestraume 26. Chopin – Fantasie impromtu in C sharp minor