Notes and Editorial Reviews
Shen Lu has won numerous international piano competitions. His gold prize at the 2014 Hilton Head International Piano competition includes this collaboration with Steinway & Sons – a debut recording from an exceptional young artist. A native of Jiangsu, China, Shen Lu has performed concerts at Beijing’s Central Conservatory Music Hall, Culture Center and City Hall, Weill Recital Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York, Jordan Hall in Boston, Severance Hall in Cleveland, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, The County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, Flagey Concert Hall in Brussels, and the Seymour Centre in Sydney. “Watercolor” highlights Shen Lu’s specialty in contemporary Chinese repertoire and his passion for the great French and Russian
piano works of the 20th century.
"Distinguished pianist and 2015 Dublin International Piano Competition winner Shen Lu presents an excellent documentation of his award-winning recital program during Watercolor. The 22 compositions offered on his debut for the Steinway & Sons record label are masterful interpretations of works composed by Maurice Ravel, Sergei Rachmaninov and Tan Dun. Watercolor also includes an arrangement by Chen Peixun of a 1930s Chinese folk song titled “Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake.” Most of these priceless, imaginative works for solo pianist evoke water imagery and were inspired by a variety of people, places, nature and events.
Watercolor opens with Chen Peixun’s arrangement of the 1930s Chinese folk song titled “Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake.” It has a very gentle melody that suggests the downstream movement of water rippling over sedentary stones in the lake. Shen Lu plays this piece impeccably and as you listen, you can imagine the rippling textures as symbolized by the arpeggios and trills. Simply beautiful.
The lovely music continues with Maurice Ravel’s five movement piece titled Miroirs. Ravel wrote this amazing work for solo piano in 1905 as a tribute to members of the French avant-garde artist group known as Les Apaches. The first movement is titled Noctuelles ("Night Moths") and was dedicated to Léon-Paul Fargue. As Shen Lu plays this chromatic work he maintains its dark, nocturnal mood via calm chordal melodies that reveal his distinctive virtuosity. The second movement Oiseaux Tristes (“Sad Birds”) is dedicated to Ricardo Viñes. This particular movement represents a lone bird whistling a sad tune but it also has several moments that capture water imagery. Shen Lu's exemplary technique beautifully captures the symbolism in this piece.
Ravel returns to a water theme with the third movement titled “Une barque sur l’ocean (“A Boat on the Ocean”). This popular movement was dedicated to Paul Sordes. Shen Lu’s interpretations of the arpeggiated sections and sweeping melodies are very concise and can also be interpreted as his own maiden voyage through a technically difficult set. The final two movements do not depict water images per se but are impeccably performed.
Rachmaninoff’s Etudes Tableaux, Op. 33 was written in 1911 and is comprised of 8 etudes. Shen Lu’s finesse and energy are enough to consume these difficult compositions and as a result, he offers the listener an excellent recapitulation of Rachmaninoff’s final works for solo piano.
Shen Lu ends Watercolor with Tan Dun’s Eight Memories in Watercolor, Op. 1. This splendid work combines the instinctive musical abilities of both masters and gives the listener an appropriate conclusion to this excellent program."
– Paula Edelstein, AXS Read less
Works on This Recording
Miroirs by Maurice Ravel
Shen Lu (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1904-1905; France
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