Adès: Works for Solo Piano / Han Chen

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Composer, conductor and pianist Thomas Adès has been described by The New York Times as ‘among the most accomplished all-round musicians of his generation.’ His ‘Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face’ reflects the glamor of the opera’s subject in the grand manner of Liszt or Busoni, while ‘Still Sorrowing’ and ‘Darknesse Visible’ explore John Dowland’s haunting lute works. Heard here in its world premiere recording, competition piece ‘Blanca Variations’ is lyrical and flowing in character, and ‘Traced Overhead’ is a vivid description of ascent and flight. Adès captures and transforms Polish style in his ‘Mazurkas,’ and the spirit of Satie and Ravel in a ‘Souvenir’ from the film ‘Colette.’


There is Lisztian panache in the 2009 “Concert Paraphrase,” some almost Japanese sounding Dowland-lute-influenced expression with dampened strings on “Still Sorrowing” (1992) and the epically stretched and trilled impact of the companion piece “Darkness Visible.” The world premiere recording of “Blanca Variations” shows us a thoughtful, pensive side, lyrically robust. You can hear a kind of Modernist post-Scriabin on “Traced Overhead” (1996). Then there are haunting, mysterious post-Chopin explorations and playfulness on the “Mazurkas for Piano” (2009). “Souvenir” (2018) closes out the program with a kind of heartbreaking lyricism. It sounds like peak experience filtered in somewhat melancholy memory.

The music has some teeth, some bite. It challenges the player with original ornateness yet never seems to lose the center of its melodic-structural thrust.

It’s a vital set of works played with obvious relish and sympathy. Anyone who lives to hear the ivory-ebony towers of sound possible in our times will no doubt find this one as fascinating as I have.

– Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 10, 2020

  • Catalog Number: 8574109

  • UPC: 747313410972

  • Label: Naxos

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Thomas Ades

  • Performer: Han Chen