On this challenging debut disc the young Chinese pianist Yubo Zhou introduces herself to the listening public with Frédéric Chopin’s twenty-four Préludes. It goes without saying that this prizewinner at many international competitions has the technical mastery required to perform these extremely difficult miniatures. But there is more: her fine feel for romantic poetry and the often intimate charm of these mostly very short works will make even experienced Chopin enthusiasts sit up and take special notice. Chopin’s third piano sonata – and – honoring her native China – “Night Alley” by Ping Gao perfectly round off this uncommonly attractive programme.
Yubo Zhou chose Gao’s “Night Alley” with very careful thought. The work produces an absolutely magical atmosphere full of dynamic contrasts and abrupt shifts of color; the grand piano resonates and vibrates with percussive individual tones and chords. Suddenly familiar notes drift by: behind closed doors, like a distant memory, somebody is playing a mazurka – by Chopin, of course!
Chopin’s collection liberated the prelude from its role as a preliminary piece introducing a longer work. Genuine character pieces alternate in breathtaking sequence, from the sensuous beginning of No. 1 by way of seemingly simple song melodies (No. 7) and furious cascades (No. 16) to the dazzling, rocketing finale (No. 24). Gloomy atmosphere (No. 2) is followed by light playfulness (No. 3). Rather in the middle of it all: the famous “Raindrop Prélude” radiating pure beauty.
Yubo Zhou also compellingly demonstrates her command of the large form – as her interpretation of the Piano Sonata No. 3 impressively shows. Just listen to the sweeping lines of the first movement! This all-around fascinating debut album by China’s youngest piano professor of course is presented in MDG’s hallmark three-dimensional sound on SACD – for supremely authentic musical pleasure!