REVIEWS

(for complete reviews please visit Joel's press kit)

“‘Revelations’ is an apt title for this important recording of diverse works — piano pieces, songs, choral works, most of them little known — by the American master composer Leon Kirchner…the music is alluring, pungent and intelligent, especially in these fine performances, most of them featuring the impressive pianist Joel Fan. ” – Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

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“The first half, starting in 1885 with Saint-Saën's charming piece, was given over to works featuring the piano; it had something of the character of a 19th-century 'miscellaneous concert,' because alternating with the two works for piano and orchestra came two solo pieces, the Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie and the Liszt Mephisto Waltz. In all of these, the piano part was dispatched with formidable virtuosity by Joel Fan. His unassuming demeanor notwithstanding, Fan is clearly a pianist—and musician—to reckon with, and I look forward to hearing more of him.”

– Bernard Jacobson, Seen and Heard International
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“Precious few pianists can make such interesting, compelling sounds with a wide range of different shades of tone color”

– Carl Kane in Ellen Hughes PennLive preview
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“Internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist Joel Fan opens the Helena Symphony's winter season with performances of two popular American works, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and Bernstein's "Age of Anxiety"...Praised for his commanding technique and the passion he brings to his performances, Fan has earned accolades from music critics across the continent...”

– Marga Lincoln, Independent Record
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“Fan described Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 5 as an "orgy" of mysticism. His big technique proved to be up to its demands (the great pianist Sviatoslov Richter said it was one of the hardest pieces ever written), as he caught both the roiling drama and the far-off quality of the softer passages. The rhapsodic climax was stirring and convincing.

From that same year came Leon Kirchner's last piece, Sonata No. 3, "The Forbidden." Fan had been Kirchner's student at Harvard and commissioned the sonata from him. It is full of turbulence, always edging forward, rarely at rest, and the student expressed his teacher's intentions admirably.”

– Gibert Mott, NewsTimes
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“A Joel Fan concert is not just a performance, it's a musical education...”

– Charles Atthil, The Union
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“Pianist Joel Fan joined the orchestra on the second half of the program for Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Like many of his other works, Rachmaninoff wrote the set of variations to highlight his own skills as a piano soloist—he was the pianist for its premiere with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1934. Fan navigated the virtuosic minefield with daring, grace, and wonderful technique, without over-emotionalizing those melodic passages that have become synonymous with Rachmaninoff's 20th-century romanticism. Fan is also a master of rhythm as a storyteller as was evidenced by his encore piece, Piazzolla's "Flora's Game," the second of the 3 Preludes for Piano.”

– Alan Sherrod, Metro Pulse
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“'A Far Cry' is a worthy exemplar of the changing face of classical music...Along with pianist Joel Fan, the Criers then delivered a rollicking reading of Mozart's 11th piano concerto. Fan's light touch and pristine technique blended well with the ensemble's muted but still buoyant accompaniment rendering an overall airy, almost casual mood.”

– Sabine Kortals, Denver Post
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“Fan played with eloquence and sensitivity, phrasing lines in a natural, unhurried way. The orchestra kept its part light and supple. Their rapport was clearest in the finale, in which the dialogues within the strings and between soloist and ensemble are more intricate than might at first appear.”

– David Weininger, Boston Globe
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“We've heard many of the great pianists play Chopin's “Funeral March” Sonata (No. 2, in B-flat Minor). Fan belongs in the company of the best. His approach to the first movement was surprisingly and gratifyingly free, conjuring up memories of some of the “Golden Age” pianists...Fan has a huge dynamic range and tremendous facility. He played the Scherzo with power and accuracy which almost matched my gold standard in this music, the 1929 Rachmaninov recording. The central section was very strongly and effectively contrasted. The March itself was dignified and very expressive without a trace of sentimentality. And in the...final Presto...the best, performance I've ever heard...”

– Leslie Gerber, Boston Music-Intelligencer
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“Carter's still-astonishing Sonata from 1946...was delivered with uncanny technical skill, even at the greatest velocity. Fan ensured that the ingenious thematic material (some of it sounding almost Copland-esque in its stark harmonic outline) and vast tone-color range registered vividly throughout. ”

– Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
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“The Philharmonic was joined for George Gershwin's Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra by New York-based pianist Joel Fan, who brought a crisp bite and precision to the piece's visually showy, technically difficult (and loud) hammering runs on the Steinway grand piano. ”

– Joe Brown, The Las Vegas Sun
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“Joel Fan can be described in any number of ways. He's a brilliant pianist who made his performing debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11. He's an artist who has won praise for his technical expertise, lyrical playing, and outstanding interpretation. He's stood out both as a solo performer and as a member of Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. Most of all, he's exciting and fun, capturing the ears of classical music lovers as well as more-casual listeners.”

– Marianne Lipanovich, San Francisco Classical Voice
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“...his playing was the picture of textural clarity in Ernesto Nazareth's 'Vem Cá, Branquinha,' which he played with the sparkle and rhythmic suppleness of a jazz improviser. He brought similar qualities to two works that quote folk themes, Villa-Lobos's Chôro No. 5 ('Alma Brasileira'), with its gauzy bass and gracefully singing melody, and Margaret Bonds's 'Troubled Water,' a set of bravura variations on the spiritual 'Wade in the Water.' And he put the gentler side of his pianism on display in the light-textured chromatic swirl of Dia Succari's 'Nuit du Destin.'”

– Allan Kozinn, The New York Times
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“Fan's technique was absolutely dazzling. It was a romantic show-stopper that sent the audience home awed and fulfilled.”
– Las Vegas Review Journal

New York Times Review from 2008 Recital at Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Mr. Fan came prepared with no fewer than four sonatas, two of them — Beethoven’s No. 31 in A flat and Chopin’s No. 2 in B flat minor — cornerstones of the repertory. Those works provided ample evidence of Mr. Fan’s probing intellect and vivid imagination, the Beethoven in particular sounding freshly conceived and full of character. Mr. Fan brought steely power and a feather-light touch to Prokofiev’s bristling Sonata No. 3. He seemed to revel in the stormy hues and red-blooded Romantic gestures in Leon Kirchner’s compact Sonata No. 3, “The Forbidden,” which was written for Mr. Fan in 2006.
– Steve Smith, New York Times

Joel Fan, the soloist for the “Emperor Concerto,” should have a halo of superlatives around his head. He sat at the piano as quietly as at a desk and proceeded to give vibrant, passionate, tender, sparkling life to the thousands of notes under his fingers. Each melodic theme seemed to grow throughout the modulatory transitions into full bloom as an organic whole. His playing of the second movement opening theme in a reverent, pianissimo whisper was one of those times when one wished the music would never end.
– Win Pusey, Special to The Ellsworth American

“Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Joel Fan read the opening movement of Schubert's ‘Arpeggione Sonata’ with patrician elegance.”
– Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“It wasn't long before Fan turned the keyboard into a dazzling display of ireworks, bursting at near supersonic speed. The audience leapt to its feet with repeated bravos. It was a sight to behold.”
– Connecticut Post

“Top 3 Classical Discs of 2006: Any newcomer daring — and secure — enough to record (American) William Bol com, (Latvian) Peteris Vasks and (Australian) Peter Scult horpe for his debut disc gets my attention. This young New York native holds it. Clear from the start is his knowing grasp of each piece's inner workings, an artist's ear for piano color and a linguist's fluency of expression. Reference's pristine audio captures every detail.”
– Palm Beach Post

“Joel Fan takes you inside the music on "World Keys," offering a deeper, more rewarding experience that may inspire you to travel beyond the border more often.”
– Minnesota Public Radio

“A versatile and sensitive pianist.”
– The Washington Post

“Fan plays beautifully, turning all the spice and pizzazz into pure pleasure.”
– Arizona Republic

“Pianist Fan was superb, his sense of timing a delight as he aced through the filigree of Beethoven’s long lines without rushing and with a keen sense of the wit the music warrants.”
– Metroland

“Fan was exceptional. His technique was exact; his touch was feathery light. His articulations were remarkably consistent.”
– Daily Gazette, Albany

“Fan graciously played an encore, the second movement of a piano sonata by Rachmaninoff. Fan’s performance of it was sensitive, poignant and memorable.”
– The Pueblo Chieftain

“Mr. Fan's playing was transparent and precise.”
– The New York Times

“Fan has selected works of great musical interest, and switches from one style to another quite contrasting one with the greatest aplomb. His playing of the 18-minute Schumann Sonata is right up there with the classic keyboardists.”
– John Sunier, Audioaudtion.com

“Along with pianist Joel Fan, the Criers then delivered a rollicking reading of Mozart's 11th piano concerto. Fan's light touch and pristine technique blended well with the ensemble's muted but still buoyant accompaniment rendering an overall airy, almost casual mood.”
– Sabine Kortals, Denver Post

“Joel Fan was the soloist for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 11, in a version without wind parts. Despite playing on a less than stellar instrument, Fan played with eloquence and sensitivity, phrasing lines in a natural, unhurried way. The orchestra kept its part light and supple. Their rapport was clearest in the finale, in which the dialogues within the strings and between soloist and ensemble are more intricate than might at first appear.”
– David Weininger, Boston Globe

“Fan adeptly captured Ravel's iconic French style.”
– Lynn Green, Columbus Dispatch

“I had no idea how fine a pianist Fan is. For the first half of the program, he took on major sonatas by two of the anniversary celebrants of this season, Chopin and Barber, and Fan showed himself to be a world class player. We've heard many of the great pianists play Chopin's 'Funeral March' Sonata (No. 2, in B-flat Minor). Fan belongs in the company of the best. Fan has a huge dynamic range and tremendous facility.”
– Leslie Gerber, Boston Musical Intelligence

“Nothing in these daunting scores -- the Carter most punishing of all -- ruffled Fan's commanding technique, and he deserves special praise for the spontaneity, wit and emotional urgency he drew from music that in other hands might sound merely thorny.”
– Joe Banno, Washington Post

“It ... turned out to be one of the most satisfying piano performances I've heard: ... a first-rate keyboard artist - with a substantial international career - play[ing] incredibly demanding repertoire that doesn't turn up every day.”
– Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

“The Philharmonic was joined for George Gershwin's Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra by New York-based pianist Joel Fan, who brought a crisp bite and precision to the piece's visually showy, technically difficult (and loud) hammering runs on the Steinway grand piano.”
– Joe Brown, Las Vegas Sun

“The Billboard top-10 classical artist will accompany the Las Vegas Philharmonic for Gershwin's 'Piano Concerto in F' as part of the second concert in this season's Masterworks Series.”
– Geri Jeter, Las Vegas Week