WORKS: Piano Sonata in D minor/D, Op. 40/3; Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 40/2; Piano Sonata in C, Op. 37/1; Piano Sonatain B flat, Op. 24/2; Piano Sonata in A, Op. 33/1
PERFORMER: Albert Wong (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 72005 (distr. +1 614 761 8709; www.ivoryclassics.com)
Prodigies sell. Their fascination is often compelling. And when a ten-year-old makes his recording debut with the whole of Book 2 of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, as Wong very impressively did last year, you simply have to sit up and take notice. A year on, he turns to more neglected repertoire and in many ways makes an excellent job of it, though the strange recorded sound (rather like the audio equivalent of home movies back in the Fifties) is an ever-present deterrent to unfettered enjoyment.
But for all his self-evident gifts and his very remarkable accomplishments, he doesn’t thus far appear to be a prodigy on the level of Evgeny Kissin, Josef Hofmann or Shura Cherkassky (or Richard Goode and Michael Roll, to cite less ‘legendary’ cases) at the same sort of age. His concentration seems to waver, his characterisation veers from the vivid and engaging to the strangely unfocused, and the command and subtlety of his phrasing and inflection are similarly intermittent. Great things may well come from him. But those around and behind him should beware of the corrupting mentality of the freak show and spare him the hype of the marketplace for the next few years or so. Jeremy Siepmann