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This arresting coupling recalls the once popular, now neglected, most garish of all piano concertos. For the authors of that august publication, The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music, the Khachaturian Concerto’s gaudy histrionics are nothing if not audacious, ‘with slot machines competing for our attention as high- spirited youths break china at sixpence a go and all kinds of dubious characters lurk in the shadows. In the second movement we have our fortune told by a gypsy, mysterious in yards of voile, complete with tambourine and a dreadful instrument called a flexatone (a kind of swanee whistle). In the third movement we emerge from the stuffy tent to end the evening on the swings and roundabouts.’

Rejected by Clifford Curzon (‘send it to Moura, she learns so quickly,’ his typically snide comment) the Khachaturian Concerto became central to Lympany’s repertoire. It also became a star vehicle for William Kapell whose trail-blazing performances across America gave him virtual ownership of the work. Wang may be less bold or virtuosic than the incomparable Kapell (his recording available on Dutton) but she is unfailingly fleet and musical, superbly partnered, realistically balanced and with all the benefits of modern sounds.

Again, in Tchaikovsky’s Second Concerto Wang’s fluency and command are enviable, if less endearingly whimsical than Cherkassky or less breath-taking than Pletnev or Stephen Hough. Her performance is also without Siloti’s disfiguring cuts, featured in recordings by Moiseiwitsch, Mewton-Wood and Eileen Joyce (a reissue on the horizon). Wang is sensitive to her co-soloists in the Andante as she is coruscating in the first movement’s daunting cadenza.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing