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Wednesday: April 20, 2005

Is This Supposed To Be Funny?

Filed under: — site admin @ 2:09 PM UTC

The Classics Today website has useful reviews of classical CDs, but one seems to be entirely fraudulent. I suspect it may soon disappear, so I will reproduce it here — it should be short enough to come under fair use:

C.L. HANON
The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises (complete)
Hu F’lhong Dong (piano)
Naxos- 8.414104(CD)
Reference Recording – Reference: Keene (Protone); Mayer (Monarch)

Just when you thought Naxos had left no style or genre of classical piano music unexplored, out comes the first in an ambitious series devoted to “The great Piano Methods, Studies, and Exercises”. What better way to start than with C. L. Hanon’s time-honored five-finger exercises? Hanon is to piano methods as the “Moonlight” Sonata or “Heart and Soul” are to piano literature. Piano students are assigned Hanon from day one, and usually hate it. At first I feared that hearing just one Hanon exercise might trigger a Pavlovian response that causes innocent listeners to slam down the piano lid and refuse to practice ever again. On the other hand, 18-year-old Cambodian pianist Hu F’long Dong’s amazingly even, accent-free, and rock steady finger work should inspire lapsed keyboard practitioners to give the piano another shot. If there’s no particular sense of joy in Dong’s playing, neither is there any drudgery. Constance Keene’s 1959 premiere recording, recently reissued on CD, stresses sheer virtuosity and dynamism, but the dry acoustics of her Manhattan School of Music teaching studio hardly match Naxos’ warm, alluring engineering. And purists still wrinkle their noses at Keene’s concluding each exercise on a prolonged major chord, rather than the single-note unison indicated in the score.

Hanon buffs looking for a more overtly “performance oriented” traversal, as opposed to pedagogical, might try to hunt down a remarkable live recording from the 1999 Mannes College Summer Piano Institute, where Steven Mayer’s whirlwind sprint through the 60 boasts brilliant pedal effects, extreme tempo changes, and thrilling, attention-getting accents. For sonic splendor and “Urtext” accuracy, though, Dong rules alone. With the promise of Idil Biret playing the entire Oscar Berringer Daily Exercises, Konstantin Scherbakov manning Czerny’s complete pedagogical output, and Jeno Jando in Kullak’s The School of Octave Playing Op. 48, Naxos has got the “technique aficionado” market in its proverbial back pocket.

—Jed Distler

A Chinese named “Hu Flung Dung” was a character in a very offensive joke I once heard and have since forgotten except for the name. Supposed Cambodian pianist Hu F’long [or F’lhong] Dong seems to be the same person, very lightly disguised. The rest of the names, from the composer Hanon and publisher Naxos through the lists of schools and artists to the reviewer, seem to be real, but who can be sure? I wonder what they think of being included in this little squib. I also wonder whether Naxos has gotten any orders for this disc.

1 Comment

  1. Engineered by Dick Hertz
    Dr. Weevil suspects this record review might be a fake: [Charles-Louis] Hanon is to piano methods as the “Moonlight” Sonata or “Heart and Soul” are to piano literature. Piano students…

    Trackback by dustbury.com — Friday: April 22, 2005 @ 8:15 PM UTC

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