Mozart and Ravel are great masters of the piano literature. They share a precision in compositional writing that is refined to perfection. I can hardly think of any one piece by either that can be called less than a masterwork. This perfection in writing came through very different processes for each. Mozart was known to complete his compositions by inspiration of an improvisational-style. Ravel worked with the precision of a Swiss made watch, to the very last detail.
In piano writing, Mozart’s simplicity requires great delicacy, and an understanding of structure and colors, an expressive gesture in a classical style such as in all his sonatas. Similarly, Ravel’s piano works have all these “classical” qualities, except Ravel’s music is more subjective. Often, his works are viewed from a third person, with a story, such as in his most difficult piano work, Gaspard de la Nuit, inspired by the poems of Aloysius Bertrand. All the characters in the poems of Gaspard de la Nuit are fantasy-like creatures. Mozart’s sonatas, on the other hand, portray warmth and hope, of human touch, especially in the last D Major Sonata, which has a pure and childlike quality.
Ravel once said: “L’Espagne est ma seconde patrie musicale” (Spain is my music’s second home). Spain was an inspiration for Ravel throughout his life. Much of his music had Spanish influence and the composer visited Spain frequently. Another composer whose music was greatly influenced by Spain was Enrique Granados, himself a marvelous pianist. He became friends with Ravel while a student at the Paris Conservatory. Like Ravel, Spanish themes abound in Granados’ piano music, whether the large scale piano work like the Goyescas, or miniature pieces such as the Danza Espanolas, Op. 37. Goyescas, a suite originally written for the piano, later was transcribed to an opera score by the composer. Just as Ravel was inspired by poetry to compose Gaspard de la Nuit, Goyescas was inspired by another art form, the paintings of Goya.
These three great composers’ similarities and contrasting characters inspired me to put their works in the same recording. From reality to abstract world, through the limitless possibility of the piano, let this wonderful music be spoken.
– Ching-Yun Hu
Declared a “…first-class talent…” and praised for her “…poetic use of color and confidently expressive phrasing…” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Hu is a winner of the 2009 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. In 2008, she captured the top prize and the Audience Favorite Prize at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Ms. Hu’s final round performances of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Israel Philharmonic were broadcast live to 38 countries. Deeply impressed by her artistry, The Jerusalem Post hailed her “...superstar quality that everybody looks for ...Musical, energetic and full of flair.” This victory resulted in a seven-city recital tour across Israel and a special invitation from the Israel Philharmonic to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, stepping in for Hélène Grimaud on only a week’s notice. Since then, Ching-Yun Hu’s career has flourished with a host of international engagements on five continents.
Featured concerto performances in 2012-13 season include Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 with the Maidstone Symphony (UK) and the Midland Symphony Orchestra (MI), Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 with Brazil’s Orquestra Filarmonica do Espirito Santo as well as the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3 with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Triple Concerto with Taiwan’s Evergreen Symphony, Prokofiev Concerto No. 3 with Brazil’s Orquestra do Curitiba, and Beethoven Choral Fantasy and the world premiere of a new work by Jeremy Gill with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra in Philadelphia. In addition to numerous recital engagements in the US, Europe and Taiwan, Ms. Hu also presents award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s works in Philadelphia, in Germany with the Szymanovski String Quartet (Schubert), in Taiwan with her mentor, pianist Sergei Babayan, and with Germany’s Audi Youth Choir and Taipei Male Choir in Brahms German Requiem.
This Victor Elmaleh Collection CD, produced by CAG Records and featuring works of Granados, Mozart and Ravel, is Ching-Yun Hu’s second recording. It follows the artist’s very successful debut CD featuring solo piano music of Chopin. That disc won Taiwan’s 2012 Golden Melody Award for Best Classical Album of the Year and was released in 2011 on the Taiwanese label ArchiMusic label.
Ching-Yun Hu was born in Taipei. She made her concerto debut at age 13 with the Poland Capella Cracoriensis Chamber Orchestra on tour in Asia and moved to the US a year later to continue her music studies at The Juilliard School in New York. She worked with Sergei Babayan and Karl-Heinz Kammerling and studied chamber music with Joseph Kalichstein and Seymour Lipkin. Additionally, she has received artistic guidance from Richard Goode and Murray Perahia. In 2008, the Cultural Minister of Taiwan gave her an honorary prize in recognition of her many achievements. Besides performing, Ms. Hu is a keen advocate in promoting classical music. She founded the Yun-Hsiang International Music Festival (www.yunhsiang.org), a bi-annual music festival in Taipei, inviting some of the most sought after artists on international concert stages to perform at prestigious concert halls in Taiwan and to work with aspiring young Taiwanese artists.