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Fine Music Magazine

April  2011

Jocelyn Ho: Luminous Sounds - Haydn, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Debussy, Prokofiev, Rzewski

Anyone attracted to the repertoire on this CD find it richly rewarding. It contains one of Haydn’s finest Sonatas (once memorably recorded by Glenn Gould), Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses, a Chopin Nocturne, two brief pieces by Debussy, Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata and a lengthy piece by the contemporary American composer Frederic Rzewski, now resident in Belgium. The latter piece, Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues is from a suite entitled North American Ballads and is based on an American protest song about the poor conditions on the cotton mills in the early 1900s. (It has also been taken up by another Australian pianist, Lisa Moore).

Hearing is straight after the last movement of the Prokofiev Sonata, the listener is struck by the similarities between the two works, but Rzewski’s piece also has much in common with the music of John Adams, Phillip Glass and other such composers. Jocelyn Ho gives a highly dramatic performance of it. Her Haydn is appropriately classical and humorous, her Mendelssohn suitably romantic and melodious, she draws unbelievably beautiful sonorities from the piano in the Debussy and is fully capable of meeting the technical demands of the Prokofiev Sonata. The only piece I had doubts about was the Chopin Nocturne which does not sound very nocturnal. Jocelyn Ho was born in Hong Kong and migrated to Australia at the age of seven. She studied music at the University of Sydney and at Stony Brook University in the United States. She has also toured extensively in Australia, the United States and Europe and has performed for the ABC.

Richard Gate

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