Classical CD Reviews

RICHARD DANIELPOUR: The Enchanted Garden (Preludes Books I and II) – Xiayin Wang, piano – Naxos

Seventeen years in the making, these preludes were worth the wait.

Published on March 18, 2012

RICHARD DANIELPOUR: The Enchanted Garden (Preludes Books I and II) – Xiayin Wang, piano – Naxos

RICHARD DANIELPOUR: The Enchanted Garden (Preludes Books I and II) – Xiayin Wang, piano – Naxos 8.559669, 49:37 ****:

Richard Danielpour has been a frustrating composer for me over the years; sometimes unhindered brilliance emerges from his pen while other times a turgidity and overabundance of ideas seem to clutter the compositional palate. This work, called The Enchanted Garden, refers to the garden of the mind of imagination and experience essentially. Cast in the guise of preludes, it is in two parts, the first composed in 1992 and consisting of five pieces based on dreams the composer had, while the second part in seven pieces reflects “real life” events in the composer’s life, and was finished in 2009. Together they constitute a worthy set of piano pieces that can take their place among the best modern efforts, if not exactly competing with Chopin—but then, who does?

The music is dreamy, reflective, pensive, aggressive, very structured, free-form sounding, jazzy, popular, and classically-oriented. In other words, it’s all over the map in terms of influence and style, and is all that more interesting for it. I do wish we could have had some more music on this disc—there is certainly room for a lot more, and I see a trend towards the stingy in the industry at large. [Don’t know about that. How about when it was unusual if an LP had more than 20 minutes per side, and the first CDs were made from the tapes for the LPs?...Ed.]  But I would not let that hinder me from acquiring this disc, played to pithy effect by Shanghai Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music graduate Xiayin Wang, who has a real feel for the idiom. The recording, taken down at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, is captured with no little finesse in crystal clear clarity.

—Steven Ritter




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