Ebullient and zesty. Doubtless there other more critically congenial
ways to describe this wide-ranging disc of Americana, North and
South - though the North doesn’t go above 60 00 N, 95 00
W so we must forego Canadian pianistic pleasures.
The programme has been chosen to reflect some of Fan’s
strengths which include a decidedly natural sounding approach
to such as Nazareth and Gottschalk, composers too good to be
shuffled off into ‘genre corner’ and too engaging
to be confined to single composer specialist recitals. Here they
take their rightful, spicy and dance based place in the pantheon
of things, and fortunately they have a laudable exponent. Nazareth’s Vem
may not breach the three minute mark
but it’s played with vivacious and charismatic brio and
gets things off to a decidedly snappy start. Gottscalk’s Suis-moi!
of 1861 reveals his brand of Chopin-translated drama
Piazzolla could hardly fail to make the cut and Flora’s
Game - Milonga prelude
certainly ranges widely, running the
gamut of melancholia to exhilaration with all the avidity of
a sweaty night in the barrios. Of more lasting and obviously
central stamp however is Ginastera’s 1952 sonata, a four
movement opus of commanding virtuosity and volatile profile.
This is something Fan latches onto, right from the opening Allegro
and the grip doesn’t lessen - neither in the
darting rapidity of the Presto Misterioso
nor in the fugitively
elusive waters of the Adagio.
Come the finale and the
dynamic toccata is back on track again, full of tension, full
It’s pleasing to have the melancholic but rhythmically
charged performance of Villa-Lobos’s Chôros No.5,
where Fan’s chording in the B section
is ultra romantic. So too the virtuosic thirds exemplified in
Amy Beach’s little study, Fire-flies.
Margaret Bonds’ Troubled
is an inventively spun Spiritual whilst Bolcom’s Nine
are the most recent things here, written in
2006. All are necessarily brief though not aphoristic and range
from the limpid and refined (No.4 - excellent reduced dynamics
from Fan here) to the more pile driving moments of, for instance,
the second. Fan ends with another major piano sonata, Barber’s.
An obvious comparison rests with John Browning’s performance,
now on Nimbus NI2528, rather more perhaps than titans such as
Horowitz and Wild. Fan is decidedly more linear than Browning
and his playing certainly lacks nothing in dynamism. The highlight
of his performance, probably, is the slow movement which he vests
with delicate limpidity, suggestive refinement and burgeoning
drama - an all-round performance of real standing in fact.
With recorded sound of the highest class and engaging notes,
what’s not to like about this effervescent release?