"To give a sense of thematic familiarity, pianist Jerry Wong has organized his album as sets of pairs. Two of Debussy’s pieces about snow begin the album, followed by two serenades, two dances, then two lullabies. I love this approach to order Debussy’s work... Wong has given each piece a context beyond opus number or time of composition and has instead restored thematic importance—something that (again, channeling some mysticism here) was intensely interesting to Debussy... Wong’s performance is driven by an understanding and appreciation for the composition that sounds true, raw, and quite clear. He is careful and methodical, as well as conscientious that his pairings indeed sound like they belong together. His Clair de lune is so delicate, his fingers seem to be just gliding across the keys. Even in the faster or heavier passages, he is only using the pedal lightly, maintaining that silvery, ethereal sound that makes this piece so obsessively beautiful.... This album is an excellent reimagining and revisitation of Debussy’s love of theme and movement."
Jacqueline Kharouf, Fanfare [July/August 2019]
"This collection is organized around the idea of physical movement and dance, and finds pianist Jerry Wong interpreting a wide variety of brief pieces in a program centered on Debussy’s celebrated Suite bergamasque (which is patterned on the baroque dance suite). Wong never argues the dance idea too strenuously, but he does make clear the connections between the pieces in this highly varied set. Highly recommended."
Rick Anderson, CD HotList [September 2019]
"This Debussy recital is a fine program... There is a lot of detail, subtle expression, and wonderful voicing in Wong’s playing... Over the past 6 or 7 issues, I have had a lot of Debussy to enjoy. Almost all discs have been collections of complete sets [which] is how I listen to all of these works, and this was a welcome change. I heard relationships between pieces I never even contemplated before. Wong’s piano playing, coupled with his excellent booklet essay and the fine recorded piano sound make this a don’t miss release."
Harrington, American Record Guide [May/June 2019]
“Except for Suite bergamasque, nothing here is “complete” – Wong curates the album by presenting various Debussy works in such a way as to expand upon each other’s moods or provide contrasts... the clean and unfussy playing ought to be [to everyone's tastes: Wong does not overindulge anything in this music, but presents it in a manner that is not so much straightforward as it is carefully considered... the juxtapositions [of different works] highlight Wong’s sensitivity to this music and the care with which he assembles this recital... Both in the choice of material to perform and in the sensitive, studied-but-not-academic way in which he performs it, Wong shows himself well-attuned to the subtleties of Debussy’s piano music and proves himself a fine exponent of it.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad.com [May 2019]
"Jerry Wong‘s magic fingers and scholarship combine to bring alive the innovative pianism of composer Claude Debussy... Wong draws his audience of listeners into an appreciation of Debussy’s compositional genius as his performance of the various pieces flows through their ears... When the CD stopped playing for the fourth time, I offered a prayer to Wong to record more of Debussy’s work, his performance being so compelling and engaging. The quality of his recording ranks with what other acclaimed pianists have achieved over decades, but there is something distinctive about it. Rather than simply playing the score, Wong brings his knowledge as a scholar into his performance as well, which translates to heightened appreciation by his listeners. He shares a deep understanding of Debussy and his compositions in this recording."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [May 2019]
“The celebrated American pianist Jerry Wong doesn’t come out with a new album every year, but when he does it’s one to remember... [an] intelligently compiled album. An artist who can present with equal persuasiveness figures as diverse as Debussy and Prokofiev (as he did the latter in his earlier MSR release) must compel our admiration.”
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [November 2018]
“eloquent… sensitivity and a finely honed sense of style”
“clean technique, forthright sound and a straight forward approach to classical textures”
The Orange County Register
PROGRAM NOTESThe piano music of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) is significant, varied and timelessly endearing. Writing for the piano allowed the revolutionary composer an opportunity to explore groundbreaking ideas, both harmonically and pianistically. A honing of compositional technique is apparent in these works, alongside a clear fascination with the wide-ranging potential of the piano as an instrument. Examples abound of Debussy’s so-called “impressionistic” style, a term befitted upon his music by art critics, and not the composer himself. The technical element of Debussy’s craft is but one intriguing aspect. More immediate to the listener is the radiance of color, the vividness of each character and the communication of something deeply personal.
Pianist Jerry Wong has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia in prestigious settings, including Weill Recital Hall in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Severance Hall in Cleveland, Shriver Hall in Baltimore, PianoForte in Chicago, the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and in the National Concert Hall of Taipei and Opera City Hall in Tokyo. In summer, Wong is co-director of the Piano Institute at Kent State and a member of the Kent Blossom Music Festival faculty. Frequently sought after as adjudicator, clinician and lecturer, his has presented master classes at noted institutions, including the Cleveland Institute of Music, Indiana University, Northwestern University and University of Michigan. Internationally, he has given classes at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Sichuan Conservatory in China, Tainan National University of Arts in Taiwan, and Yong Sieh Tow Conservatory in Singapore. He has presented lecture recitals at Music Teachers National Association conferences, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Music Teachers Association of California and the West Virginia University Piano Festival. Also active as an author, his work includes liner notes for Music Minus One, reviews of several CDs for MSNBC, a chapter in The Pianist’s Craft 2 and articles in Clavier Companion. Wong’s performances, recordings and interviews have been widely broadcast on radio and television. A graduate of Indiana University, Peabody Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music, where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree, Wong’s teachers have included Menahem Pressler, Byron Janis, Ann Schein and Sara Davis Buechner. He presently holds the position of Professor of Piano and Coordinator of Collaborative Piano at Kent State University in Ohio. Jerry Wong is a Steinway Artist.
[ www.jerrywongpiano.com ]
PROGRAMCLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Des pas sur la neige (Préludes, Book I)
Snow is Dancing (Children’s Corner)
La sérénade interrompue (Préludes, Book I)
Serenade of the Doll (Children’s Corner)
Danseuses de Delphes (Préludes, Book I)
La danse de Puck (Préludes, Book I)
Jimbo’s Lullaby (Children’s Corner)
III. Clair de lune
La plus que lente
Danse – Tarantelle Styrienne
Minstrels (Préludes, Book I)
Général Lavine – eccentric (Préludes, Book II)