Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750):
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2
-- DISC 1 --
-- DISC 2 --
Piano: Albert Wong
Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Engineer: Ed Thompson
Recorded at Fernleaf Abbey, Columbus, Ohio,
May 7-11, 2000
Original 24-Bit Master - HDCD Encoded
Recording debut of the phenomenally gifted 10-year-old prodigy Albert Wong performing J. S. Bachís Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 2, complete).
Bachís monumental keyboard masterpiece, The Well-Tempered Clavier, is hardly kidís play. Yet, 10-year-old child prodigy Albert Wong performs the 24 preludes and fugues that encompass Book 2, with wisdom and ease far beyond his years. This recording is truly extraordinary ? a testament of youthful exuberance and a young musical mind at one with the genius that is J. S. Bach. A first in recorded history.
No other 10-year-old musician has ever ventured to record this music. This is a phenomenal debut recording!
After this 85th Birthday celebration recital in Carnegie Hall, Earl Wild turned over Carnegie's stage to a talented young 10-year old prodigy named Albert Wong who first played 'Happy Birthday', then continued with a substantial piece by Hummel, done with a fine virtuoso flair.
American Record Guide, Apr. 2004
This marks the recording debut of Albert Wong, a 10-year old prodigy. Listening to these discs I was impressed by his mastery of the piano. Lines are clearly defined; the music has forward momentum, and Master Wong seems to have the structure of each Prelude and Fugue firmly in mind.
American Record Guide, Feb. 2001
Albert Wong's Bach reflects a slightly odd personal serenity and self-confidence. He chooses modest tempos, plays evenly and with a sweet tone. His Bach flows softly, like a river. Yet he is able to sustain our interest in pieces such as the longish Prelude in E flat minor, and he keeps the lines of the, ensuing fugue clear. He articulates carefully, and accents discreetly. He has tact and a firm sense of what is important in Bach. The result is a lovely, always understated and restrained, rendition of The Well-Tempered Clavier.
Fanfare Magazine, Feb. 2001
Golden Youth Albert Wong's Bach-playing is not only technically secure - an amazing achievement for any pianist - but also musically mature. He conveys his awareness of every line in the music with just the right degree of emphasis, never exaggerating; his poise remains unruffled through the most difficult passages; his tempos are consistently sensible, neither held back for the sake of technical difficulty nor rushed due to immature enthusiasm. This would be an impressive debut for any musician; for a ten-year-old, it is astonishing, one of the best recordings of any musical prodigy ever made. Wong's own program notes are remarkably intelligent and interesting.
Andante.com, Dec. 2000
A young boy walked out with flowers, Mr. Wild introduced him as Albert Wong, a 10-year-old prodigy, and asked him to play. His first offering was "Happy Birthday." He then gave an astonishing performance of the Hummel Rondo. It is as hard to believe that Albert Wong is 10 as that Earl Wild is 85.
The New York Times, Dec. 2000
Albert Wong of Carrollton, Texas supplies genuinely special Bach playing, balancing rhythmic vitality with unassuming grace. Many big-name pianists could learn from this affectionate shaping and dovetailing of Bach's counterpoint and his sensitive response to harmonies.
The Dallas Morning News, Nov. 2000
I've just heard a new recording of Book 2 of the Well-Tempered Clavier, played by a remarkable 10-year old, Albert Wong on Ivory Classics.
New York Magazine, Nov. 2000
The place where 10-year-old Albert Wong studies classical piano isn't extraordinary.
The bright orange carpet is stained; the mustard-colored walls are mostly bare except for a few Asian ornaments. Two side-by-side pianos, a desk and a few built-in shelves fill the room.
But in this unadorned place, extraordinary things occur. Albert and his piano professor Joseph Banowetz are preparing for Albert's debut CD, which will be on Ivory Classics.
For this independent label, Albert is tackling all 24 preludes and fugues of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II. The release date is in September, the 250th anniversary of Bach's death.
"This is a massive undertaking for a professional artist let alone a 10-year-old boy," says Joseph Banowetz, a professor of piano performance at the University of North Texas in Denton. "The pieces are very difficult, sophisticated, mature works - not at all classroom material."
Albert has to have these pieces mastered by his recording date in May, as well as prepare for his April 23 concert with the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth.
The latter alone could overwhelm a young pianist. "Bright" children typically play short Bach pieces and minuets. Albert made his orchestral debut performing a full Bach concerto - not just one movement - at age 7. "That's just unheard of," says Dr. Banowetz.
During a recent lesson at Professor Banowetz' office on the University of North Texas campus, the two sit side-by-side at matching black Steinway pianos, each with his own sheet music.
The room hasn't changed since the first day this wide-faced boy, with a buzz cut, sat down at the piano bench.
"Why don't you start at the top of the page."
As Albert plays, Dr. Banowetz reads the music along with him and jots down notes. Albert rolls his shoulders, keeping them soft and rounded and pointed toward the keys. He rarely says anything other than, "yes, yes" to acknowledge Dr. Banowetz' latest instruction.
"Be careful that the left hand doesn't swallow up the right hand," Dr. Banowetz instructs. "Lighter on the left."
Albert gets up for a closer look at the notes Dr. Banowetz is pointing at.
"These are dangerous places here. . . . Play your right hand alone."
He does as he's told.
Without missing a stroke he plays the section again with two hands.
"That's it. That's it." Albert continues to play.
"Watch the left hand - not too loud."
Albert tries again - turning his ear closer to the music, listening for the subtle differences with the intensity of a mother listening for a sound from her child's room.
"That's it," says Dr. Banowetz.
The professor never speaks down to Albert. Nor does he use any child-like games to help him understand difficult material. "I teach Albert like I do my university students. . . . Albert and I don't talk about wrong or missed notes. It's a higher level of teaching. We discuss concepts and techniques."
Deborah Voorhees, Fanfare Magazine, Apr. 2000