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David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

Born in Singapore, but musically trained and spending most of his life living in the UK, the young Seow Yitkin performs a disc of ten ‘Popular Chinese Piano Pieces’. Being unfamiliar with the music, I am not sure whether it comes from Yitkin’s interpretations, but much strikes me as being by French Impressionists creating works influenced by the Far East. That description is meant to imply that Western audiences will enjoy the sounds created in these lightweight pieces, most of the composers having studied in Europe. Particularly charming is the Children’s Suite by the Paris trained Ding Shande, the mercurial picture, Catching Butterflies, requiring Yitkin’s dexterity. His Toccata is an engaging score made of sterner stuff, and, though probably never intended as such, emerges as an early and extremely successful venture in Minimalism. The result is a virtuoso showpiece. Also trained in Europe, Chen Chien Hua is from the old school of classical music, his Adagio much akin to a latter-day Schubert who has just entered the late 20th century. Chinese folk music dressed in classical garb in Chen Puixun’s To Spring and The Pedlar, before we return to Impressionism in Zhu Jianer’s Prelude, the disc ending with a vivacious Xinjiang Dance from Guo Zhihong. Are these really ‘Popular Chinese Piano Pieces’ people regularly hear? They certainly make a happy listening experience, this reissue of a recording made in Japan in 1978 capturing the technically brilliant Yitkin when he was in his early twenties. The sound is as fresh as if made yesterday. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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