“Pianist Nancy Tsou’s latest release transports you to the tremendous excitement, the pageantry of the Latin composers Piazzolla, De Falla, Granados, Albéniz and Ginastera.” MOVE Records
There is probably a shortage of Chinese pianists in Argentina but Nancy Tsou makes up for it in a beautifully compiled CD championing the music of her own country and that of the mother country, Spain.
When classical buffs think of Argentina, their minds turn immediately to the Tango and then directly to Astor Piazzolla though it was Daniel Barenboim who really stimulated the classical interest in this dance form. It’s not surprising then that the opening tracks are three of Astor’s, “Oblivion” – slow and melancholy, “Milonga De Angel” – also sad and technically a predecessor of the Tango rhythm, and the more rhythmically recognisable “Libertango” – on the whole more relaxing than inspiring a desire to dance.
Enrique Granados was in my opinion the most nationalistic of Spanish composers, his “Andalusa” makes one think of the Sierras if not the Toreadors. Any pianist will tell you that it sounds easy to play but definitely is not. “Intermezzo” is also full of dotted rhythms with slower episodes – it is part of his suite “Goyescas” which was so well-received in the USA that his departure was delayed resulting in his untimely death after a U-boat attack. Happily, a large amount of his scores, thought lost, has recently come to light.
Isaac Albéniz is probably best-known for his pieces for guitar although most of these were written originally for piano. His life was cut short by Bright’s disease to which Mozart also succumbed. Nancy played two contrasting pieces from his “Songs of Spain” album.
Manuel De Falla forms a bridge from Spain to Argentina though it was late in life that he migrated to Buenos Aires to escape Franco’s régime. “A Brief Life” comes from an opera of the same name while “Miller’s Dance” is a lively rhythmical piece from “Three-cornered Hat” often heard in versions for guitar and for orchestra.
With Alberto Ginastera, we are back to Argentina and more modern times. I feel his music really brings to mind Latin America rather than Spain. We hear here three of his dances from Op2 – very enjoyable.
It is impossible to praise Nancy Tsou’s playing too highly – accurate, rhythmical and exciting. Many of the works she plays are usually heard being played by musical groups but she loses none of the nuances and, above all, the music is imbued with strongly Hispanic sensitivities.
Nancy Tsou (pronounced “Zo”) was born to a diplomatic family of the Republic of China (Taiwan). She began her musical education at age five, in Argentina, and continued her studies in Melbourne and New York.
The Latin Muse is available from MOVE Records here