Chiyan Wong - Liszt Transfigured - American Record Guide

...impressively over-the-top, as it should be. I loved every juicy second.

In the Halevy fantasy (themes from La Juive) Wong is again at his octopus-like best as fistfuls of notes go flying in every direction. It’s all very exciting, and this pianist knows just what to do to avoid anything sounding like
empty rhetoric. It is all performed most seriously, but with enough bravura and flair to bring down the house.

The two Mozart based pieces are better known, especially the Don Giovanni Fantasy. Wong uses the Busoni edition as his point of departure. The Fantasy on themes from Figaro and Don Giovanni is a potpourri of joyful elation.

Do not miss this one.

Alan Becker, American Record Guide
RECORDING OF THE MONTH; Liszt Transfigured – Operatic Fantasies for Piano

I have run out of superlatives here as this really is a stupendous recording. I have listened to this disc many, many times while writing this review. It is one of those few recordings which sounds as if it is spontaneously generating whenever it is played. Every idea is presented without preconceptions and flows naturally. Mr. Wong’s playing is phenomenal. There is some exquisite interplay between the hands. Even when the music is breathtakingly challenging, he manages to make it sound easy. I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this disc to fellow listeners, as it is incredible. I would really like to hear Mr Wong live in concert, so shall be keeping an eye on the schedules for such an event. The cover notes are a little sparse but with music making as good as this, it does not really matter to me. The recorded sound is wonderful, clear and bright and realistic. This is another disc to add to my pile of the best Liszt recordings of 2017.

Jonathan Welsh, MusicWeb International
Spine-tingling pianistic mayhem

The young Hong Kong-born pianist Wong Chiyan is a fast-rising name in the over-populated circus of 20somethings vying to be the piano world's "next big thing". His route is not by winning international piano competitions, which are frankly a dime a dozen now, but by the scholarship and specialisation of certain composers. In his case, Franz Liszt and Ferruccio Busoni have been targets of interest.

In a very well-crafted programme, he used Mozart as a start point, before branching into the transcendental pianism of Chopin, Liszt and Busoni. Almost Romantic in character, the Fantasy In C Minor (K.475) is Mozart's most modern- sounding piano work and it resonated like late Liszt in Wong's hands.

Heavy octaves, stark chords and amplification of dissonances rid the already austere work of any sentimentality, thus paving the way for his dissertation.

Busoni's Second Sonatina was a wholly original work, but with a Mozartian inspiration. This most dissonant and violent work, looking forward to a Schonbergian future, was dispatched with fearless aplomb and uncompromising authority.

The concert closed with the Singaporean premiere of the Busoni-Wong edition of Liszt's Reminiscences De Don Juan... What could one expect from this quadruple transcription (Mozart-Liszt-Busoni-Wong) other than total pianistic mayhem?

Wong's no-holds-barred approach was totally appropriate, rendering the dead Commendatore's stentorian curse a truly malevolent edge that was jaw-dropping and spine-tingling. In quick succession came the duet La Ci Darem La Mano and ensuing variations, raising the temperature to a hellish fever pitch... the final outcome brought down the house.

His encore was quietly sublime for a change, the noble Andante from Book One of Busoni's Indianisches Tagebuch (Indian Diary).

This is how legends are made.


Chang Tou Liang, The Straits Times (Singapore)

Zweierlei hebt das CD-Debut von Chiyan Wong aus dem nicht eben kleinen Kreis der Alben mit Liszt-Operntranskriptionen heraus. Zum einen liegt sein Schwerpunkt auf den weniger bekannten Titeln. Wong hat sich nämlich neben den ,,Réminiscences de Don Juan“, sozusagen dem Klassiker des Genres, zwei der brillanten frühen Borken ausgesucht, die Fantasien über Themen aus Giovanni Pacinis Oper ,,Niobe“ und der ,, Jüdin“ von Jacques Fromental Halévy. Und er schließt sein Programm mit der unvollendet hinterlassenen Fantasie über Themen aus Mozarts "Figaro" - spielt sie jedoch nicht in der von Busoni eingerichteten und halbwegs bekannten Fassung ,,über zwei Motive“, sondern in einer Version, die Leslie Howard sich 1993 für seine Liszt-Gesamtaufnahme neu zurechtgelegt hatte. Sie ist kurz vor Schluss u den von Busoni fallengelassenen Komplex mit dem Menuett aus dem ,,Don Giovanni" erweitert, das in einem prunkenden Arrangement aufleuchtet. Eine lohnende Bereicherung.

Zum anderen sticht die Neuaufnahme durch eine Pianistik aus einer der oberen Qualitätsklassen heraus. Chiyan Wong, 1988 in Hongkong geboren und vornehmlich in England ausgebildet, überspringt nicht nur die in abenteuerlich dichtem Abstand aufgebauten, spieltechnischen Huren dieses Programms fehlerfrei. Er besitzt, wie auch sein charaktervoller Textkommentar zeigt, den rechten Nerv für den Glanz und Schmelz dieser Musik und lasst das ihr immanente süße Gift clever zur Wirkung kommen. Dass sein Vortrag sich dabei auf Kosten der souveranen großen Linie noch in den schonen, manchmal von ihm überakzentuierten Einzelheiten jugendlich, verliert, ist das Einzige, was man ihm ankreiden kann. - Hervorragend natürlicher und naturalistischer Klang.

Ingo Harden, FONO FORUM (Germany)

Standing in... was the young UK based pianist Chiyan Wong whose utterly breathtaking performance was a revelation. [He] displayed finger work and glissandi with the sort of prestidigitation that conjured magical effects on the piano this reviewer had never heard produced before... Ravishing delicacy of touch and tone in the lyrical passages and tremendous percussive forces in the cadenzas that made the piano at times a frightening instrument, inevitably brought [Horowitz] to mind... Those present at this performance will run, I imagine, not walk to secure their tickets for his future recitals.

John Gilroy, Cambridge News (United Kingdom)

Beyond the dazzling technical finish he brings to these fiendishly challenging pieces, most striking is Wong's sincerity of purpose... Wong presents this as yet another unfamiliar corner of the repertory with musicality bolstered by understanding and conviction. I suspect that, even for those who are not hard-boiled Lisztians, there will be a great deal of interest here.

Patrick Rucker, The Gramophone (United Kingdom)

Wong skilfully balances fire, flair and levity, and has a knack for nudging the melodies gently round their corners. In the Lisztian spirit, he even adds a few ideas of his own. The Grande Fantaisie on Pacini’s opera Niobe starts playfully then melts into a slow section of ethereal, held-breath delicacy.

Erica Jeal, The Guardian (United Kingdom)

If Mendelssohn was a portrait of politeness, Sergei Prokofiev struck like a serpent baring fangs in his iconoclastic Second Piano Concerto in G minor. This has become the signature piece of young piano virtuosos willing to hyperflex their muscles and raise the roof.

Even among overwrought perofrmances which are a norm, Hong Kong-born Chiyan Wong's account stood out for being vastly different and often revisionist.

How he stressed and stretched the opening movement's slow tempos, peppering it with ear-catching accents at unexpected places and dragging out the massive cadenza to almost eternity, was certain to perk one up.

His quickfired reflexes in the machine-gun like Scherzo - concluded within all of two minutes - was almost a given.

The rambunctious Intermezzo and tempestuous Finale gave him much opportunity to redefine the meaning of the word grotesque

One suspects the enfant terrible in Prokofiev would not have minded at all. With excellent accounts on disc by youngsters Yuja Wang, Kirill Gerstein and Beatrice Rana available for reference, Wong is very much his own man with many valid things to say.

His encore, Liszt's late and bleak Nuages Gris (Grey Clouds) - also in G minor - and the very antithesis of the concerto, was also proof of unique thought processes at work.

Chang Tou Liang, The Straits Times (Singapore)
British pianist, Stephen Hough
Chiyan Wong is an exciting, original and thoughtful pianist. Nothing sounds 'bought in'; everything sounds freshly but not self-consciously conceived.
Stephen Hough
"Chiyan Wong has a sincerity as a person which he applies to his music-making, and that is very rare these days. I am sure he will continue to grow as a real artist."
Kun-Woo Paik
Saturday evening introduced 24-year-old Chiyan Wong, a rising star from Hong Kong based in London. In Schumann’s rhapsodic Kreisleriana, he brought out the elements of fantasy with a keen mastery of its myriad dynamics and shades…

Liszt’s By The Lake of Wallenstadt and his transcription of Hans von Bulow’s Dante Sonnet revealed Wong’s sublime way with legato and inner voices. Fingers and fists of fury livened up the Dante Sonata and a much-truncated version of the chop-socky Hexameron Variations, based on a march from Bellini’s opera I Puritani.

In the latter, a number of variations were dropped while Wong added several of his own to spectacular effect. Vulgar music, no doubt, but played with polish and finesse.
Chang Tou Liang, The Straits Times (Singapore)
Chiyan Wong (15) from Hong Kong possessed remarkable sophistication in his piano playing.
Christo Lelie, Trouw (The Netherlands)
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