Jiang Yi Lin: Masques
The concept of masks both real and abstract purportedly unifies the present recital’s diverse offerings; but the disc also adds up to a well-contrasted and musically stimulating programme. It takes both nerve and unusual pianistic assurance to open a recital with Szymanowski’s dense and foreboding Three Masques, yet Jiang Yi Lin’s command of the notes and textural clarity justify his daring. That said, Piotr Anderszewski’s Gramophone Award-winning recording (Virgin, 9/05) probes deeper with regard to pinpoint dynamic control and heeding the composer’s minute expressive directives. In the little Scriabin Op 63 No 1 Masque, Jiang’s delicate interpretation keeps the top melody in the foreground, whereas the slower Pascal Amoyel recording (La Dolce Volta) brings out more harmonic sensuality. His gently rounded Debussy Masques yields to Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s quicker and more sharply accented traversal (Chandos, 1/08).
By contrast, Jiang’s angular, slightly dry treatment of Schubert’s third Klavierstück lends appropriate swagger to the music’s cross-rhythmic phrase groupings. Too bad that he tends to round off the first piece’s dynamic surges, which Mitsuko Uchida unleashes with incisive fury (Philips, 8/98), while his pleasantly lyrical approach to No 2 is a tad generic when measured alongside the more specifically inflected Arrau, Pollini and Brendel versions. While other Liszt Dante Sonata recordings teem with more palpable ferocity and force, one must credit Jiang for not turning the music into an endless octave étude by virtue of his projection of long lines. Jiang’s sonority opens up in the final selection, La lune d’automne au-dessus du lac tranquille, where Chen Peixun’s transcription projects the music’s pentatonic sound world to gorgeous pianistic effect. The disc’s executive producer and Jiang’s former teacher, Ewa Kupiec (a great pianist in her own right), ought to be proud.