Thomas Adès is one of today’s most prominent British composers, particularly renowned for his orchestral music and operas (recall The Tempest, directed by Robert Lepage and presented at the 2012 Festival d’opéra de Québec). His catalogue also includes more intimate works, in the form of chamber music and, above all, piano music. A seasoned performer himself, Adès knows his instrument very well. His piano writing is skilful, virtuosic, structured and idiomatic. One can detect musical and technical influences from Chopin, Liszt or Ravel. His language is however resolutely modern, even if he draws some of his inspiration from the past.
The young pianist of Taiwanese origin Han Chen brings together here the complete (so far) piano works of the composer. Among them are the post-impressionist Traced Overhead Op. 17, its mood recalling Gaspard de la nuit, the mystical Still Sorrowing Op. 7 and its use of prepared piano, the meditative Darkness Visible and its homage to John Dowland, and Concert Paraphrase on “Powder Her Face”, a fantasy based on the opera of the same name and its polystylistic character. In this heterogeneous grouping, Chen demonstrates his aesthetic versatility, his musical sensitivity and his undeniable virtuosity.