Xiaoya Liu Delivers with Carl Vine Sonatas

This release presents all four of Carl Vine’s piano sonatas. And they’re all world premiere recordings. I’ve enjoyed every album of Vine’s music I’ve heard. And I’m surprised there aren’t more than a dozen or so available.

Vine’s had a long and distinguished career in Australia. He started as a pianist and composer for theater and dance. He then transitioned into film and television.

Vine was the artistic director for a major chamber music festival organization. And he wrote music for the Olympics. And all the while Vine composed “legit” classical music – like these sonatas.

Vine understands classical form and aesthetics. His sonatas begin with simple motifs. These gradually build in complexity, and other themes are added. Eventually, all the material comes together, giving the listener a satisfying intellectual finish.

But Vine also brings in musical ideas from his other endeavors. There are sections with strong, syncopated pulses, sometimes reminiscent of pop. Although Vine doesn’t write hummable tunes, his music is listener-friendly.

Motifs are easy to recognize when they return. Vine’s harmonic language is post-tonal but often uses simple three- or four-note chords.

Xiaoya Liu plays these works with authority and enthusiasm. Her touch is sure, and her phrasing nuanced. I highly recommend this recording — both for the music and the performances.

Vine is a pianist. These sonatas aren’t simple, but they’re not impossible to play. And what Vine demands of the performer are doable.

Carl Vine: Complete Piano Sonatas
Xiaoya Liu, piano

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