Best & Worst 2018 - Classical Albums

GRAND RUSSIAN.
GRAND RUSSIAN.
WILD & IN LOVE.
WILD & IN LOVE.
CHOPIN THE COMPLETE PRELUDES.
CHOPIN THE COMPLETE PRELUDES.
CLAIR DE LUNE MENAHEM PRESSLER, PIANO.
CLAIR DE LUNE MENAHEM PRESSLER, PIANO.

BEST

GRAND RUSSIAN

Albert Tiu, Piano Centaur 3661

This appears to be a first recording coupling the two mammoth piano sonatas of the great Russians composers Piotr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninov.

Tchaikovsky's Grand Sonata In G Major and Rachmaninov's First Sonata In D Minor play for well over half an hour each and Singapore-based Filipino pianist Albert Tiu goes for the big picture.

He paces each very well, building up arch-like to thrilling climaxes. Further contrasts provided in the slow movements are brought out with idiomatic feeling and unfailing imagination.

Tiu is a Romantic at heart and this production of Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory can stand up to scrutiny with the best recordings of the classical catalogue.

WILD & IN LOVE

re:mix/Foo Say Ming re:mix #002

Here is a new album of popular songs, golden oldies mixed with more recent ones, performed by the land's leading purveyor of musical nostalgia, the crack string ensemble re:mix led by Singapore Symphony Orchestra first violinist Foo Say Ming.

The two major works are by Hong Kong-based British composer- conductor Dominic Sargent.

 

Sonatina headily brings together Bee Gees, Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson, while Sonata Latina recycles songs such as Solamente Una Vez, Quizas Quizas Quizas, Besame Mucho, Desafinado and Conga.

Singaporean arrangers Chen Zhangyi and Derek Lim also get a look in. Foo and his charges are sumptuously recorded, making this classy trip to yesteryear a most memorable one.

CHOPIN THE COMPLETE PRELUDES

Shaun Choo, Piano MusicShaun

With this self-produced and self-recorded album, young pianist Shaun Choo became only the second Singaporean (after Azariah Tan) to record an all-Chopin disc.

The main work is the complete set of 24 Preludes (Op. 28).

Choo finds a wealth of nuances and kaleidoscopic responses in this seemingly disparate set of miniatures.

In the scintillating Grande Valse Brillante In E Flat Major (Op. 18), he combines elegance with exuberance. The programme is completed by the brooding Nocturne In C Minor (Op. 48 No. 1) and the very familiar "Heroic" Polonaise In A Flat major (Op. 53), performed with passion and polish.

Choo is a compelling home-grown artist destined for bigger things.


WORST

CLAIR DE LUNE MENAHEM PRESSLER, PIANO

Deutsche Grammophon 479 8756

The Germany-born Menahem Pressler (born 1923) is the "grand old man" of the piano. However his solo album of French piano music, recorded last year, does his legacy scant justice.

Almost every item is played at a funereal and lugubrious tempo.

Claude Debussy's First Arabesque, Reverie and Clair De Lune (from Suite Bergamasque) are so dragged out that one's patience is sorely tested.

The same stolidity applies to the selection of five Preludes, while Maurice Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte stretches to nearly eight minutes. A dispiriting showing from a great pianist.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 23, 2018, with the headline 'Best & Worst 2018 - Classical Albums'. Print Edition | Subscribe