The prodigiously talented Jiang Yi Lin began studies at age six, won his first competition the next year, and made his orchestral debut at ten. He’s now 27, and for his first recording has chosen a selection of works united by the concept of that which is hidden or concealed.
Three Masques by Szymanowski are each named for literary figures who hid their true intentions behind literal or figurative masks. These vivid, electrifying pieces are constantly shifting, polyrhythmic studies in tonal nuance, and push the performer to “the limits of pianistic possibilities,” as Jiang puts it. Two complementary early-20th-century pieces follow: a Masque by Scriabin, which ripples and flashes for barely a minute, and a longer Masque by Debussy, a complex rendering of conflicting positions.
Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D946 function as a mirror to the Szymanowski, with Jiang equally at home exploring his dancing mask of sorrowful concealment. Jiang returns to the early 20th century to conclude with a piece by Cantonese composer Lü Wencheng, the title of which translates as Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake. The inspiration is West Lake in Hangzhou, near Jiang’s hometown of Shanghai, and here, he says, it’s possible to drop “one’s personal mask and to find inner peace.” This carefully considered selection works beautifully while making a strong statement about cross-cultural connectedness, and is performed with consummate technique and dash.