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Why not skip Wieniawski once in a while? Programme Ma Sicong instead.

This suite's first movement titled Epic [listen -- track 4, 0:00-1:23] is well-named and opens with a series of cadenza-style flourishes interspersed with bold piano declamations (0:00-2:12) leading eventually to the Kangding Love song, repeated at increasing tempi till its concluding dash. The central movement, Nostalgia, also related to the Kangding song has a disarming pastorale sound while the last movement, Dances beyond the Frontier, introduces a further joyful folk song, Jiao Daniang.

Lullaby -- Bai Zi Diao (1935) [listen -- track 7, 0:00-1:13] is precisely as its name suggests and put to use in the nursery in preference to Johannes Brahms' Wiegenlied: (Guten Abend, gute Nacht), Op 49, No 4, it may well prove more effective than the German counterpart.

In immediate contrast, Lantern Festival Dance (1952) is a straightforward toe-tapping romp.

The Taiwanese Amei Suite (1981) consists of five largely contemplative moods of nature, each one less than a minute and a half in duration. Here the titles ('Spring', 'Solitude', 'Mountain Song', 'Moon' and 'Dancing along the Hillside') say it all, and these artists perform each poetic fragment to the manner born.

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Copyright © 4 March 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller