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Gloria Cheng Piano Music
Gloria Cheng, piano
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A recording of six contemporary piano pieces, four written during the last 10 years, may sound like an intimidating program. But Gloria Cheng's new release of works by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky and Witold Lutoslawski is consistently exhilarating. It's not just that Ms. Cheng plays these daunting pieces with such commanding technique, color and imagination. She has brought together works that fascinatingly complement one another. Mr. Salonen's ''Yta II'' (1985) is a seven-minute whirlwind of hyperfast riffs and runs that spiral across the keyboard. Imagine an atonal Art Tatum. Mr. Salonen's ''Dichotomie'' (2000), a fearsomely difficult work, begins like some fractured Finnish avant-garde update of Stravinsky's ''Petrouchka'' with oscillating chords and relentless, headily dissonant repetitions. The exuberant second movement climaxes in fitful bursts of leaping cluster chords and shimmering glissandos for both hands. The surprise is Lutoslawski's Sonata for Piano (1934), composed when he was a student. The earthy modernist of later years is not much present. But the young composer's fascination with Ravel and Stravinsky comes through in a smartly made, personal and quirky piece.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 7/6/2008

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