COMPOSERS: Scarlatti • Sebastian Currier • Debussy • Lowell Liebermann • Schumann
WORKS: Scarlatti: Sonata in D minor, K9; Sonata in D minor K141; Sebastian Currier: Scarlatti Cadences; Brainstorm; Debussy: Estampes; Lowell Liebermann: Gargoyles, Op. 29; Schumann: Carnaval, Op. 9
PERFORMER: Joyce Yang (piano)


This is an intriguingly programmed recital from a young South Korean pianist with strong hands and big ideas. While each of the works is representative of keyboard writing in its own era, the connections between them run deeper than that. Scarlatti Cadences by Sebastian Currier (born 1959) offers a quirky perspective on the two Scarlatti Sonatas that open the disc; and Lowell Liebermann’s Gargoyles – which gives the soloist quite a run for her money – is a dazzling set of grotesque miniatures dating from 1989, a vivid complement to the rich imagery of Debussy in Estampes and Schumann’s cavalcade of caricatures in Carnaval. For what it’s worth, Yang credits her own synaesthesia for attracting her to pictorial pieces.

Her playing offers impressive moments: jet-propelled fingerwork in Currier’s energetic Brainstorm, a colourful response to the Liebermann and some warm, expansive elements in Carnaval – her ideally romantic ‘Florestan’ is spot-on. Some of the programme is hampered by a sense that Yang hasn’t escaped the barlines; this doesn’t always allow the bigger picture to flow out beyond its individual cells. The Debussy, though undoubtedly well played, feels somewhat impersonal, and the Schumann sometimes suffers with slightly ploddy accompaniments, over-digital passagework and, in the finale, clanging, heavy-handed tone.


Jessica Duchen