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CD Review

Francis Poulenc

KNS 40


  • Trois Movements perpétuelles
  • Three Novelettes
  • Three Intermezzos
  • Fifteen Improvisations
  • Mélancolie
  • Les Chemins de l'amour
Congyu Wang, piano
Recorded in Singapore, November 2014
KNS Classical KNS A/040 57:55
Comparison: Poulenc Piano Works
  • Les Soirées de Nazelles
  • Three Novelettes
  • Pastourelle
  • Trois Movements perpétuelles
  • Valse
  • Improvisations 1-3, 6-8, 12, 13, 15
  • Trois pièces
Pascal Rogé, piano
London 417438-2 1987 77:32

Born in Singapore, Congyu Wang began piano at age three. In Paris he studied at the Ecole Normale de Musique with Jean-Marc Luisada and Odile Catelin-Delangle; and then at the Schola Cantorum with Gabriel Tacchino (Poulenc's only student). He went on to win Grand Prize in international competitions in Berlin and Bordeaux, among other competition prizes. He has given over five hundred recitals in many countries from France to Indonesia. An active chamber player, he also has a repertoire of thirty piano concertos.

Pascal Rogé has long been prominent as an interpreter of French music, so I am assuming it is appropriate to compare his manner and style of playing to that of Congyu Wang. Their repertoire here overlaps. They both play the Movements perpétuelles and the Novelettes. Rogé plays only some of the Improvisations; Congyu Wang plays them all and, as far as I can tell, he offers the only recording of all fifteen of these on a single disc. Each of these pianists offers other short works in addition. All the pieces on Wang's CD are miniatures, most of them less than two minutes in duration. (Rogé's opening piece runs twenty-three minutes.) Among the other unique pieces, I find Congju Wang's final selection, Les Chemins de l'amour, exceptionally beautiful.

Both pianists play with great facility. Allowing for pauses between numbers, their timings are not dissimilar, in nearly every case. In terms of style of playing, Rogé's emphatic stress on certain notes seems possibly more in accord with what I have come to expect from listening to Poulenc's concertos. Wang's playing tends to be smoother, but he too certainly stresses the ends of phrases when called for. Interestingly, Wang's notes quote Poulenc, in boldface type, "As for the use of pedals, that is the great secret behind my piano music. One can never use enough pedal! Never enough!" It is not possible to express this more forcefully, so one can certainly give Wang credit for internalizing this. As for Wang's legato, this is perhaps the basis for the word Charme, which was suggested to him as the title of his CD.

A pleasurable recital.

Copyright © 2016, R. James Tobin