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Yuja Wang made her made her European debut with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, so this disc of Ravel and solo Fauré (Wang’s first all-French album) holds some documentary value as well as offering fine performances. The major problem, it turns out, comes from the engineers: the orchestra is placed too far back in both concertos. A shame, as there is clear rapport between Wang and her conductor Lionel Bringuier and, despite the placing, it is clear that orchestral balance and detail is carefully considered.

In the G major (up against the likes of Michelangeli and Zimerman, of course), Wang acquits herself well, with perfect trills, so important in the first two movements, and a real sense of Gallic lyricism. The helter-skelter of the finale is correspondingly well caught.

Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand finds both pianist and orchestra bringing real power to the experience. Wang seems perfectly within the piece (technically, there is some truly awesome playing here), her delivery at times riven with grandeur, at others the very definition of tender. Sandwiched between the two concertos is a solo item by Fauré, a 12-minute Ballade, nicely if a tad superficially played and in a different, warmer and somewhat less clear acoustic (Teldex Studio Berlin).

There is so much to admire here that it seems churlish not to accord a full house of stars for the rating; yet the recording balance, the slightly low playing time and the exalted nature of some existing recordings are the reason for my four-star verdict.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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