This would be an astonishing recording debut for a pianist of any age, but Paul Ji was just 16—and already equipped with a dazzling technique and a musical maturity—at its release. Here, Ji has chosen pieces that provide inspiration and hope for all the challenges brought by 2020. Lisztian high jinks raise a welcome smile while beautiful, shimmering Debussy, tender Tchaikovsky, and the exquisite simplicity of Schumann’s “Träumerei” remind us of music’s power to heal and comfort. If Scriabin’s most anguished étude brings to mind pain and suffering, Ji ends this accomplished program with Chopin’s magnificent “Polonaise in A-Flat Major,” nicknamed the “Heroic”—his personal tribute to medical care workers across the world.

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