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FACTOR – The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings was set up in 1982 “to provide assistance toward the growth and development of the Canadian Music industry.” Among its primary mandates is to support the production of sound recordings by Canadian musicians and Children’s Corner is among the recent CDs resulting from this worthy endeavour.
It features American-Canadian pianist Melody Chan presenting a thoughtfully chosen program of music spanning a 250-year period, including works by Mozart, Brahms and Debussy. Born in Los Angeles, Chan was raised in Vancouver and studied at the University of British Columbia, later receiving her doctorate in performance from the University of Toronto. She has appeared with Orchestra Toronto and has taken part in the International Music Festival at Casalmaggiore, Italy.
The disc opens with Mozart’s well-know variations on Ah vous dirai-je Maman! K265, completed around 1782. Chan’s approach is poised and elegant, and she easily handles the technical requirements of this deceptively challenging work.
Four selections from Brahms’ Sixteen Waltzes Op.39 from 1865 – originally for piano four hands – are wonderfully spirited, while Debussy’s familiar Children’s Corner Suite from 1908, is an endearing depiction of childhood from a simpler time. Beginning with Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum, Chan’s playing is sensitively articulated, with just the right amount of tempo rubato.
In Summer by Canadian composer Christine Donkin is less familiar, but this languorous essay artfully depicts a summer’s day in northern Alberta, while the four-movement suite Music for Piano by Alexina Louie is an attractive study in contrasts, providing a fitting conclusion to a satisfying program.