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Peter Burwasser
Fanfare, January 2018

Here we have Zhu Xiao-Mei, a Chinese pianist of deep seriousness. …Her Bach playing is, correspondently, emotionally reticent at the same time as it is reverent and contemplative. Her life story must surely play a large part in the development of her artistic personality; she was a victim of Mao’s “re-education” policies during the Cultural Revolution, and spent five years away from her instrument, and another five years away from formal musical education. This may (or may not) explain the lack of easy joy in her playing, which is cool and even somewhat dour. Interestingly, this does not affect the power of the music, but merely presents it in a different light. Her technique is excellent, and she has a very natural sense for the dramatic pacing of the music. My highest compliment to Zhu Xiao-Mei is that as I was listening to her performance, my amazement at the beauty and profundity of Bach was constantly aroused. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review



Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, October 2017

…Xiao-Mei states that she aims for music making that is “alive as possible—to recreate a ‘live’ feeling” in the studio. In this, she succeeds very well, keeping up a feel of spontaneity through rhythmic verve in the dances, their lively character and contrast not so much presented through loudness, but making a Courante very much distinct from a Sarabande while at the same time keeping an integrity of atmosphere that defines each suite.

With carefully placed and restrained amounts of ornamentation, Xiao-Mei’s overall approach to these French Suites has been one that brings out their essential simplicity…and there is an undoubted freshness and open-air unpretentiousness about this playing that I find sincere and attractively compelling. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Harriet Smith
Gramophone, October 2017

Turning to the French Suites of the Chinese pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei, it’s a relief to find those sustained lines I missed in Lewis’s performances. Each suite emerges with a very distinct character without needing to resort to extremes. Just take the Fourth Suite: her Allemande has a reassuring quality to it, its pedal points evident but not overdone, while the Courante has a gentle bounce and is nicely varied on repeats; after a veiled Sarabande we get a playfully knowing Gavotte, an ebullient Air and a pleasingly feisty hunting-style Gigue. She’s unafraid to use the full resources of the piano and occasionally her pedalling sounds slightly over-generous, though this could be the acoustic. A good account, then, if not one on the same level as Perahia’s Award-winner. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Kate Bolton-Porciatti
BBC Music Magazine, September 2017

These are honest and deeply affectionate performances… © 2017 BBC Music Magazine




Alain Steffen
Pizzicato, July 2017

Zhu Xiao-Mei’s Bach performances belong to the very best ones. After a very eventful and not always beautiful life, the Chinese pianist seems to have found the way to the light in Bach’s music. Nobody plays Bach in a purer, more unaffected and unpretentious way. The combination of this simplicity, of an overwhelming beauty, of depth and transcendence is simply breath-taking. © 2017 Pizzicato



John Brunning
Classic FM, June 2017

It is with children in mind that I recorded these French Suites, always having heartfelt simplicity and purity in their mind. Children see the world with hope, optimism, and cast in light much like Miró sees the world. I find a childlike purity in him, similar to what I hear in the French Suites. There is a quote by Miró that touches me enormously and makes me think a lot whenever I play, as it reflects something that may be the most difficult aspect of musical interpretation and of art in general: ‘To gain freedom is to gain simplicity’—Zhu Xiao-Mei. © 2017 Classic FM





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