I get a lot of review CDs. Most of them I listen to once, or not at all, and pass them along to the four or five people who have proven to be reliable reviewers. It is rare that a recording makes me stop everything and listen. Jenny Lin’s new recording of two major piano works by Ernest Bloch with the SWR Rundfunkorcheter Kaiserslautern, under Jiri Starek, is one of those rare moments. I must confess that I didn’t know the Concerto Symphonique but I’m inclined to take the word of David Hurwitz at Classics Today who has pronounced it “one of the 20th century’s great masterpieces for piano and orchestra,” and this CD “easily…its finest recording to date.”
Jenny’s performance is extraordinary. Intense, sensitive, nuanced, and perfectly executed. You wonder how a 97-pound human being could possibly create a sound this big and enveloping. Her account of Bloch’s much more familiar Concerto Grosso No. 1 is just as spectacular, in a quieter way. You come away from the CD with the realization that Bloch was even better than you thought he was and that Jenny Lin, who has until now been best known for her willingness to take on new and gnarly works, is an A list pianist in the late romantic repertory as well.