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Night Stories
Full contents list at end of review
Jenny Lin (piano)
rec. 17-19 February 2014, Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia, USA
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD98.037 [61:52]

It’s a pity the cover artwork is so clumsy, because Jenny Lin has recorded a greatest-hits collection of nocturnes and night-music. She’s chosen the works very wisely and she plays them all very well. Replace the poor Photoshop work with an artistic photo and I can imagine many a casual listener being seduced into the world of classical music via this album.
 
Jenny Lin has a performing track record that runs the gamut from challenging modern works to crowd-pleasers. Her interests range from Seeger to showtunes. Here, she adds a few surprises to the usual romantic piano collection: Glazunov, Turina, Arthur Lourié, and Charles T. Griffes join the more popular works by Chopin, Debussy, and Liszt. Lin’s skill is enough to make almost all these works sound like equals.
 
In particular, I was charmed by Glazunov’s La Nuit and impressed by Griffes’ howling character piece The Night Winds, which solidifies his reputation as the leading non-French impressionist. A Fauré nocturne gets another standout performance, making me wonder if Lin would be up for recording more. She’s also a fan of Ignacy Paderewski’s nocturne, once a major end-of-concert lollipop, which is well-known today from its appearances on Stephen Hough encore albums.
 
The most famous works are Clair de lune, superbly done, and two Chopin nocturnes, the first and (I think) the best. The oddest entry is Lourié’s hectic Phoenix Park Nocturne, composed in the late 1930s in a weird mechanical style which suggests his studies with Stravinsky and other Russian modernists. I’m surprised we didn’t get an encore of Thelonious Monk’s Round About Midnight.
 
The engineering is as fine as we expect from Hänssler, and with playing of this calibre, even a connoisseur might find an excuse to own yet another Clair de lune recording. For a newcomer to classical music, though, this album could be ideal.
 
Brian Reinhart
 
Contents List
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Clair de Lune [5:07]
Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon [2:34]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
In der Nacht (Op. 12 No. 5) [4:04]
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
La Nuit, Op. 31 No. 3 [4:12]
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Nocturne, Op. 10 No. 1 [4:00]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Nocturne in A flat, Op. 33 No. 3 [3:46]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Nocturne No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1 [5:14]
Nocturne No. 13 in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1 [5:48]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Nocturne, Op. 54 No. 4 [3:58]
Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Silueta nocturna, Op. 65 No. 1 [4:42]
Arthur Vincent LOURIÉ (1892-1956)
A Phoenix Park Nocturne [4:25]
Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Nocturne, Op. 16 No. 4 [3:55]
Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES (1884-1920)
The Night Winds, Op. 5 No. 3 [2:06]
Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)
Nocturne in F minor, “La Separation” [3:22]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Nocturne No. 3 (Liebestraum) [4:36]