WholeNote Magazine Review:

 

Unlike many young artists, who tend to stick to familiar repertoire when releasing their first recording, pianist Kayla Wong thought outside the box and produced a CD of music almost entirely from the 20th century. She explained: “The composers on this CD are ones that I have always been drawn to on a deep musical level” and the result is an intriguing combination of music by Lecuona, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Barber on this debut release titled Allure.

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Wong studied at the University of Victoria and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Since then she has appeared in concert throughout North America and Asia, including recitals at Carnegie Hall and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

Wong’s deep affinity for 20th century music is evident from the first chord of Lecuona’s Ante El Escorial, one of three compositions included by the Cuban-born pianist/composer. Her playing is dramatic and polished, at all times capturing the subtle rhythms and nuances which are such an inherent part of his style. Lecuona’s slightly older contemporary Maurice Ravel is represented by two of his most famous compositions, Jeux d’eau from 1901 and Une barque sur l’océan from the set Miroirs, written four years later. Dazzling and difficult, this music broke new ground when it first appeared and Wong approaches its formidable technical challenges with apparent ease. Indeed, her flawless technique seems to have no limitations, evident again in the Rachmaninoff Moments Musicaux Op.16 where a warmly romantic tone further enhances a fine performance. Of all the compositions on this disc, Samuel Barber’s Piano Sonata Op.26 from 1948 is undoubtedly the least familiar. Its four movements are a study in contrast, from the strident opening to the bold finale in the form of a fugue – a true technical tour de force which Wong brings off with much bravado.

In all, this is a very impressive recording from a young artist – “alluring” indeed – and we certainly hope to hear from her again in the future.


Allure CD Program

Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963)
01 Ante El Escorial
02 Aragonesa
03 Granada

 

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
04 Jeux d'eau
05 Miroirs: Une barque sur l'ocean

 

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Moments Musicaux Op. 16
06 Andantino
07 Allegretto
08 Andante cantabile
09 Presto
10 Adagio sostenuto
11 Maestoso

 

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Sonata for Piano Op. 26
12 Allegro energico
13 Allegro vivace e leggero
14 Adagio mesto
15 Fuga: Allegro con spirito

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