Hsia-Jung's first encounter with the music of Frédéric Chopin was hearing the Etude Op. 10 No.3 freely transcribed on the guitar as an impromptu lullaby by her mother, Taiwanese musician Ho Lan. Perhaps that first impression of Chopin from her infant days predisposed Hsia-Jung's ears toward hearing exotic musical influences in the works of the famous Polish patriot.
Biographies of the Pole in exile often emphasize the Polishness in his music: the Mazurkas, the Polonaises, the Revolutionary Etude, etc. Yet could it be that Chopin, the extremely well-traveled composer, was never captivated by music from other cultures? The liner notes contain a witty self interview in which the pianist puts forward musicological substantiations on the un-Polish influences in Chopin's music and challenges various traditional views on these well-known works.
Hsia-Jung's interpretation of the four Ballades was hailed by critic Harris Goldsmith as:
". . . thrillingly revelatory and inspired rethinkings of four of Chopin's supreme masterpieces. Such clear-headedness and selfless honesty are exciting to encounter - all the more so since Chopin is so frequently mauled by 'Tradition.'"
see more of review below
New York Concert Review Vol. 6 No.2
Hsia-Jung Chang, piano
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
"The pianist displayed some miraculously deft, rapid trills. Ms. Chang's laser clarity and focus put me in mind of Peter Serkin's pianism at its best - high praise, indeed."
"Ms. Chang's integral performance of the four Chopin Ballades was even more mesmerizing in its unwavering clarity of structure and emotional concentration. All sorts of felicities were realized to the hilt . . these were thrillingly revelatory and inspired rethinkings of four of Chopin's supreme masterpieces. Such clear-headedness and selfless honesty are exciting to encounter - all the more so since Chopin is so frequently mauled by 'Tradition,'"
". . . the listener (is) glad to have made the acquaintance of so interesting and formidably accomplished a musical personality. Hsia-Jung Chang is a distinctive and important new voice in the annals of pianism: I'll be watching her with keen anticipation."