One does not normally think of a classical compact disc of solo material as a compilation album or programmatic effort because the literature is usually chosen along predictable lines of thought such as sequential sonatas or even similar works of differing genres by the same composer. Here, however, is an album of material interest because it takes three drastically different composers and spotlights them dramatically in three stylistically contrasting creations, each of which is individually unique in it's reflection of their compositional skills, nationalistic tendencies and personalized artistic inclinations. The result is two masterpiece staples of the repertoire, the Beethoven Sonata Appassionata, which is indisputable, and the Mussorgsky "Pictures at an Exhibition," which is sui generis, separated by a respite of beauty which unapologetically respects beauty for the appreciative sake of beauty, itself. It is Chopin in a subtly adorned expression of elegant simplicity in the Andante Spianato, punctuated by a virtuosic flare of energetic romance, in the Grand Polonaise Brilliante. Mr. Luo's recording brings serious pianistic and interpretive value to these works and marks his debut album, made immediately following his graduation from The Julliard School of Music, with a Masters degree earned under the tutelage of Yoheved Kaplinsky, the chair of the school's piano department, and Professor Matti Raekallio. Promessa Recording Company Notations by Dr. David Dubal If Beethoven's Fifth Symphony epitomizes this composer for the general public, so his Appassionata is the piano sonata that defies Beethoven within this spectrum of his art. It is music of burning passion, the greatest musical explosion for keyboard up to it's time. The work is in three movements; both outer movements are in sonata form. The middle movement, Andante con moto, is a theme and variations which leads to the pulsating violence of the finale. After this depiction of a mighty struggle, Beethoven seems to have lost interest in the piano sonata. Five years passed before he composed his next works in the form. Written in Chopin's twentieth year, the Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise Brilliante is a marvelous display piece. Originally written for piano and orchestra, the sumptuous Polonaise is ceremonial, the Andante spianato (i.e., with smoothness) is a liquid-toned gem demanding a poet's reading. The orchestral part is paltry, but has it's flavor; many have dispensed with it altogether, permitting this work to be performed on the recital stage. Mussorgsky was considered a competent pianist, and during his short and turbulent life he left two dozen piano pieces that generally show little gift for piano writing. Yet his masterwork for the instrument, in fact the greatest piano work of the Russian nationalists, Pictures at an Exhibition, is music of stupendous originality. The group of tableaux, linked by a Promenade, in various forms, was inspired by a memorial exhibition of the drawings and paintings by the composer's friend Victor Hartman. But, as Martin Last Writes, "it is ... disappointing to see Hartman's drawings from the perspective of Mussorgsky's music: the music is so much bigger, so much wilder, so much more visceral." The work has been even more popular in the orchestral transcription by Ravel, though in this form the score sounds more like a showcase of brilliant effects. The original piano writing, however, has often been criticized as being unpianistic and awkward. Horowitz accepted this judgment when he made his own version, which enriches Mussorgsky's sound, and is played with tremendous tension and shattering climaxes. It is Horowitz at his most elemental. Richter's recording, from a live concert at Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1958, has been treasured by all aficionados of the original version of the score. Mr. Luo possesses a fine technique and plays with a variety of colors. He is a pianist who should be heard. Dr. David Dubal, a professor at Juilliard, has kindly permitted the use of these notes from his book, "The Art of the Piano," published by Amadeus Press.