In its Summer 1999 issue, International Piano Quarterly‘s Donald Manildi surveyed the discography of complete recordings of the Chopin Etudes, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the most notable of the lot. Among all of these recordings, including legendary versions by Arrau, Pollini, Ashkenazy and others, Manildi declared the recording by Cuban-American pianist Juana Zayas to be the best of the century. His assessment aptly confirms what the New York Times‘ chief critic Harold Schonberg observed twenty-two years earlier after having heard her perform these virtuoso pieces at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall: “It was altogether an imposing feat, and it may be that we have with us a Chopinist to the manner born . . . She played with style, sensitivity, a big technique and an aristocratic flair for the mixture of romanticism and classicism embedded in the music.”
While it would be impossible to hide the massive pianistic technique in her possession, Ms. Zayas chooses not display it for its own sake. A true musician-pianist, she has always subordinated technical accomplishment to the music itself, revealing its beauty and structure with a warm, rich tone and a superb understanding of its style and architecture. In his American Record Guide review of her 1996 recording of the Chopin Preludes, Schonberg likewise noted this proper balance and order: “She filters Chopin’s notes through a fertile mind, with a very personal but never overdone kind of romanticism that looks back to the great pianists of a previous age.”
This new album contains magisterial interpretations of some of Schubert’s best keyboard works and is an important addition to the Zayas discography.
JUANA ZAYAS PLAYS SCHUBERT. Sonata in B-flat major, D. 960 (op. posth.); Four Impromtus, Op. 90, D. 899; No. 1 in C minor; No. 3 in E-flat major; No. 2 in G-flat major; No. 4 in A-flat major. Juana Zayas, piano. Total time: 71:33. [DDD] UPC#17685-11392
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