Yun-yi Qin (piano)
Tang BIGUANG (b.1920)
Liu Yang River (1949) (arr. by Wang Jian-zhong for piano 1972) [3:13]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Nine Variations on a Minuet in D major by Jean Pierre Duport, K. 573 (1789) [8:44]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata No. 16 in A minor, Op. 42, D. 845 (1823) [24:05]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Keyboard Sonata in C minor, Hob.XVI:20 (1771) [13:16]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
El pelele - Goyescas Scene [4:34]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Valse in A flat major, Op. 38 (1903) [5:04]
Ignaz FRIEDMAN (1882-1948)
Music Box, Op. 33, No. 3 [2:56]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Etudes d'execution transcendante, S139/R2b: No. 10 in F minor, "Appassionata" (1851) [4:47]
Claudio PRIETO (b.1934)
Jaén 2008 (2008) [8:29]
Yun-yi Qin (piano)
rec. December 2008, Professional Conservatory of Music, Jaén, Spain
NAXOS 8.572341 [76:02]

This release forms part of Naxos’s ‘Laureate Series’, one that is devoted to recent prize-winning young soloists. Yun-yi Qin won the Jaén Prize International Piano Competition in 2008. This long established competition, dating back to 1953 is given an extensive write-up in the booklet. The winner was born in China in 1992 and has won a number of competitions. She is now studying with Beihua Tang.

This is a calling card for her, taking in interesting repertoire that doesn’t shy away from Haydn or Schubert, despite her youth. She was sixteen when she set down these performances after her competition win, in the town of her triumph.

Liu Yang River was composed in 1949 by Tang Biguang but arranged for piano in 1972 by Wang Jian-zhong. It has a lazy, easy-going charm, very pretty, very much saturated in Chinese ethos. She moves onto the Mozart Duport variations which she plays crisply enough. The challenges of the Schubert are met with youthful confidence. She certainly doesn’t linger, and she’s not inclined to luxuriate in the slow movement. In the Scherzo too she’s punchy and rolls into the finale. She doesn’t yet play softly enough. Maybe this is unfamiliarity with the recording studio or maybe she was simply projecting too optimistically.

The Haydn sonata is light on repeats and the performance only lasts thirteen minutes. It’s not difficult however to get a balanced view of her approach to the work from this; her playing is rhythmically alert and she seems attuned to the classicist credentials of the music. It is however rather direct and as yet un-nuanced playing.

Her Granados is radiates youthful fire, but is tonally rather hard and unyielding. She lacks - of course she does, but it needs stating - de Larrocha’s lightness, wit and subtle rubato usage. The young player is too metrical and one-faced here. She could also phrase more affectionately in the Scriabin though once again she can’t be accused of malingering at the chosen tempo. She has a way to go yet to match the ineffable Friedman, whose own recording of his Music Box is so supple, colouristic and infused with a sense of projection. Her Liszt has nice sweep but lacks the pulsing drama and muscularity of an Ovchinnikov.

Nevertheless one of the prizes of a competition win can be, as here, a recital disc early in one’s performing life, and a youthful marker of talent.

Jonathan Woolf