1998 / Narada
Review by Kathy Parsons
This gentle, elegant solo piano debut is a real beauty! Classically-trained in performance, composition, and conducting, Mia Jang lets simple, heartfelt melodies tell her stories, and the results are warm and moving. Jang first appeared on Narada’s First Light compilation of five new piano soloists in 1996, and the three pieces on that album are included on Sweet Dreams. The emotional content is rich but accessible, and I sense Jang feels most comfortable communicating through the piano. The free use of rubato throughout her compositions is mesmerizing in its natural ebb and flow of emotion and rhythm. Complex enough to hold up to many repeated listenings, and yet simple enough to get into right away, this is a CD that I will come back to for a long time.
Sweet Dreams maintains an even-tempered pace throughout, but each piece is a distinctive gem on its own. Several of the pieces were composed as lullabies for Jang’s young children, which explains the tenderness of “Sleep Tight”, “Night Song”, “Sweet Dreams”, and “Angel Hair”. (I have to wonder if Jang’s playing and composing style will become more turbulent as her kids approach the age of 12!) “First Spring Day” is a bit more up-tempo, and evokes visions of butterflies and fresh new-born flowers. “Remember When” is one of my favorites - still gentle and tender, but with just a slight nostalgic bite. “Sweet Dreams” is probably the most powerful of the 14 pieces - the use of rubato here is so effective in conveying the changing moods of the work as it crescendo’s to its peak and then drops back into a peaceful reverie.
There are no weak tracks on this CD, and I strongly recommend it!
September 8, 1998