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Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Janacek, Brahms (2017)

Posted By: Designol
Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Janacek, Brahms (2017)

Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Janáček, Brahms (2017)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 200 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 160 Mb | Artwork included
Genre: Classical | Label: BIS | # BIS-SACD-2238 | Time: 01:05:46

In 2009, at the age of 19, Haochen Zhang became one of the youngest musicians ever to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Since then he has had a busy concert schedule, primarily in his native China and in the U.S.A. but also in Europe where he made his début at the BBC Proms in 2014. Recording has been less of a priority for Zhang, and it is only now that he releases his first studio album, recorded at the Reitstadel, the well-known audiophile venue in Neumarkt in Germany. For this recital, Haochen Zhang has devised a programme made up of works that he feels particularly close to. As he writes in his own liner notes, they ’not only speak to me in a very intimate way, but also connect with one another at a corresponding level of intimacy: as a whole they form a unique musical narrative.’ The pieces all share a reflective and introspective quality, albeit reflective in different ways. Opening the disc Schumann’s Kinderszenen were described by the composer as ‘reflections of an adult for adults’ and in the closing Op. 117 Intermezzi, Brahms also seems to be looking backwards – but with resignation rather than intimate tenderness. Framed by these two, the works by Liszt and Janácek contain overtly dramatic episodes, but contemplative interludes form a recurrent feature of the Ballade, and in Presentiment, the first movement of Janácek’s Sonata, the dark forebodings seem to rise up from the composer’s own soul.

Haochen Zhang is both a prodigiously award-winning pianist and a self-confessed introvert, and the wide-ranging choice of repertoire on his first studio disc reflects this. He captures the childish, quickly dissipating seriousness of Schumann’s Kinderszenen, and plays it with the kind of artistry that sounds sincerely artless.

Liszt’s Ballade No 2 has Zhang creating great rumbling waves in the left hand, then closing in an atmosphere of hard-won peace. In this, and in Janáček’s Sonata 1 X 1905, he excels in conveying the larger shape of the piece, knitting the phrases together into long paragraphs, yet he doesn’t short-change the showier passages. Brahms’s Three Intermezzos, Op 117, make for an understated close to an intimate, inward-looking disc, and their feeling of slow rise and fall evokes the breathing of a huge creature asleep. Rarely on this recording does his playing make a forceful bid for the attention, but it certainly rewards close listening.

Review by Erica Jeal, The Guardian

Haochen Zhang first came to my attention through an excellent selection of live performances from the 2009 International Van Cliburn Competition, where Zhang shared the Gold Medal victory with Nobuyuki Tsujii. Judging from his first studio release for BIS, Zhang has evidently been honing and fine tuning his artistry, arguably to a fault.

It’s fashionable for young pianists to over-interpret Schumann’s Kinderszenen in quest of Argerichisms or Horowitzisms. Zhang, however, will have none of that, yet his aim for lightness, transparency and directness yields poetic results. How much more interesting and sophisticated the ubiquitous ‘Traümerei’ sounds without overwrought accents and contrived pedal effects, and when is the last time you heard such a disarmingly lilting ‘Ritter vom Steckenpferd’? Schumann’s hobby horse claims its rightful place after too many bucking broncos hogging the catalogue.

In contrast to the rhetorical heft and dramatic trajectory served up by Claudio Arrau, Zhang views Liszt’s B minor Ballade more as a free-flowing fantasy. One can argue, though, that the broken octaves sacrifice their inherent agitato urgency for surface suavity, and that Zhang races through each reiteration of the major-key Allegretto theme as if he were embarrassed by its sentiment. With the final peroration, Zhang opts for Liszt’s rarely performed ossia alternative text consisting of booming chords, as opposed to the rippling ascending scales that nearly everyone else plays: he ploughs through those chords, sidestepping the composer’s grandioso directive.

The rounded edges and polished passagework characterising Zhang’s Janáček are pianistically impressive, yet he glides over the music’s stark aura and speech-like syntax. Just compare Zhang’s relatively glib first movement’s unison phrases to the shapely rhythmic inflections of Firkušný,Moravec or Schiff, and you’ll understand what’s missing.

Zhang handles Brahms’s E flat Intermezzo with kid gloves and basically underplays, while smoothing out the cross-rhythmic phrase groupings. The B flat minor is similarly misty-eyed, texturally mushy – indeed overpedalled at times, with almost none of the firmly etched counterpoint you hear from Rubinstein and Kempff. Zhang’s broadly paced C sharp minor is fuller in body, grander in design and better sustained all round; a convincing alternative to the brisker, terser, more classically orientated readings that I generally prefer. The fine recorded sound registers with even more lifelike resonance via SACD multichannel playback. All told, an uneven recital, capped by a winning Kinderszenen.

Review by Jed Distler, Gramophone

Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Janacek, Brahms (2017)



Tracklist:

Robert Schumann (1810-56)
Kinderszenen, Op.15
01. 1. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen (1:34)
02. 2. Kuriose Geschichte (1:13)
03. 3. Hasche-Mann (0:32)
04. 4. Bittendes Kind (0:51)
05. 5. Glückes genug (1:15)
06. 6. Wichtige Begebenheit (0:54)
07. 7. Träumerei (2:23)
08. 8. Am Kamin (1:07)
09. 9. Ritter vom Steckenpferd (0:39)
10. 10. Fast zu ernst (1:37)
11. 11. Fürchtenmachen (1:53)
12. 12. Kind im Einschlummern (2:21)
13. 13. Der Dichter spricht (2:36)

Franz Liszt (1811-86)
14. Ballade No.2 in B minor, S.171 (14:08)

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)
Sonata 1.X. 1905 'From the Streets'
15. 1. Predtucha (5:41)
16. 2. Smrt (8:30)

Johannes Brahms (1833-97)
Drei Intermezzi, Op.117
17. 1. Andante moderato (6:04)
18. 2. Andante non troppo e con molta espressione (4:36)
19. 3. Andante con moto (7:52)


Exact Audio Copy V1.1 from 23. June 2015

EAC extraction logfile from 13. June 2017, 21:19

Haochen Zhang / Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Janacek, Brahms

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Peak level 95.7 %
Extraction speed 4.2 X
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Test CRC 5B058841
Copy CRC 5B058841
Copy OK

No errors occurred


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foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2018-03-14 01:20:33

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Analyzed: Haochen Zhang / Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Janacek, Brahms
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DR11 -13.47 dB -28.52 dB 1:34 01-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 1. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen
DR11 -7.01 dB -22.10 dB 1:13 02-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 2. Kuriose Geschichte
DR10 -5.52 dB -19.42 dB 0:32 03-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 3. Hasche-Mann
DR10 -12.04 dB -28.35 dB 0:51 04-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 4. Bittendes Kind
DR11 -6.30 dB -22.57 dB 1:15 05-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 5. Glückes genug
DR11 -2.55 dB -17.01 dB 0:54 06-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 6. Wichtige Begebenheit
DR11 -9.13 dB -26.70 dB 2:23 07-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 7. Träumerei
DR11 -7.21 dB -22.34 dB 1:07 08-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 8. Am Kamin
DR10 -2.62 dB -15.48 dB 0:39 09-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 9. Ritter vom Steckenpferd
DR10 -9.48 dB -25.01 dB 1:37 10-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 10. Fast zu ernst
DR13 -4.05 dB -23.99 dB 1:53 11-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 11. Fürchtenmachen
DR11 -15.17 dB -32.22 dB 2:21 12-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 12. Kind im Einschlummern
DR13 -10.57 dB -31.26 dB 2:36 13-Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op.15 - 13. Der Dichter spricht
DR12 -0.82 dB -19.16 dB 14:08 14-Liszt: Ballade No.2 in B minor, S.171
DR12 -2.19 dB -19.43 dB 5:41 15-Janácek: Sonata 1.X. 1905 'From the Streets' - 1. Predtucha
DR13 -0.37 dB -22.17 dB 8:30 16-Janácek: Sonata 1.X. 1905 'From the Streets' - 2. Smrt
DR14 -11.19 dB -30.38 dB 6:04 17-Brahms: Drei Intermezzi, Op.117 - 1. Andante moderato
DR12 -5.56 dB -23.95 dB 4:36 18-Brahms: Drei Intermezzi, Op.117 - 2. Andante non troppo e con molta espressione
DR14 -6.26 dB -26.75 dB 7:52 19-Brahms: Drei Intermezzi, Op.117 - 3. Andante con moto
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Number of tracks: 19
Official DR value: DR12

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 405 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================

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