One rainy afternoon in NYC I was browsing in Klavierhaus, when I came across a rebuilt 1907 Pleyel piano. Though the Pleyel design had changed somewhat between Chopin's time and 1907, having read about the composer's fondness for the Pleyel piano, I was happy to have the unexpected opportunity to hear his music on the instrument. With the shop owner's permission, I sat down and played the A-flat Etude of Op. 25. The different registers of the piano formed delicate, transparent layers of sound which at once blended yet retained clarity as colors in watercolor paintings. The effect was so stunning that I had to try another piece by Chopin, then another. There I remained undisturbed by the shop owners and staff for over an hour, entering through this sound portal an era when music supplied not only the mood, but the plot, characters, and scenery as well; when people exchanged ideas during nightly soirées in intimate salons, where passing thoughts and mood changes were momentarily savored.
Later when my sister Hsi-Ling, a recording engineer and herself a brilliant pianist, heard the Pleyel, she shared the same excitement for the sound and suggested that we record it. I decided the complete Préludes of Chopin would uncover the wide range of color and moods of both the composer and his piano of choice. Chopin dedicated the Twenty-Four Préludes of Op. 28 to non other than Camille Pleyel, the piano maker and the composer's longtime friend.
- Hsia-Jung Chang
Taiwanese pianist Hsia-Jung Chang has performed throughout America, Scandinavia, and Asia. She resides in New York City where she maintains an active career as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. The Complete Preludes of Chopin was featured on Reflections from the Keyboard with host David Dubal on WQXR on Jan. 18 2006. Her recording of the complete Chopin "Impromptus, Ballades, Berceuse" is also available online: www.cdbaby.com/chang.
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