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East West Encounter: Music by Chen, Louie, Beethoven, Liszt, Franck, & Chopin. Susan Chan, piano Disc Makers SC2018. $15.99
Even if this wide-ranging piano recital were not well played, all fanciers of the pure sound of a unique piano would be compelled to sample this CD. The instrument used is Washington State University's 9' Fazioli grand, the manufacturer of which uses "the Ferrari of pianos" in its advertising. This instrument is one of only a few American-university-owned Fazioli products, the prices of which (as noted in publicity found online) "...range in price from $70,000 for a 5'2" grand to more than $160,000 for a 10'2" concert grand" that is said to be "the world's largest." As it happens, WSU has two of them, including a 10'2" model. For more information on the manufacturer, see http://www.fazioli-piano.com/ ; for information about WSU's larger instrument, see http://www.wsu.edu/nis/fazioli_piano.html [inactive 7/06].
Colleague Marvin Ward reviewed the recent recital of Susan Chan (http://www.wsu.edu/~chans/ [inactive 7/05]) in Kenan Recital Hall at Peace College, and four of the works that were on that program may be found on this well planned CD-Ning-Chi Chen's "Cherishing Thoughts of Red Cliff" (1984), Alexina Louie's "Warrior, from Scenes from a Jade Terrace" (1988), Beethoven's Sonata in E Minor, Op. 90, and Harold Bauer's transcription of Franck's Prelude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18, originally for organ. The pieces by Chen and Louie exploit the wide range of this piano's sound-color or palette as well as its dynamic range. Like Asian-influenced works by Debussy and Ravel, the pentatonic scale is used. Chan's playing of the Beethoven is fresh and stylish with, as Ward noted in his recent review, "precise, sensitive, and delicately-nuanced playing." The Bauer transcription is a real jewel with a wealth of color not usually heard in the original organ version. There is no lack of flair in Chan's dynamic reading of Liszt's First "Mephisto Waltz." The recorded recital ends with a crystalline and warm performance of Chopin's Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58. Each time I have replayed this CD I have found more to enjoy in the performances it contains. I look forward to a chance to hear the soloist in recital in the future.