Gloria Cheng has established herself as a technically fearless and colorful interpreter of 20th-century scores. Her first recording on the Telarc label, featuring piano music of John Adams and Terry Riley, was released in June 1998, and won universal acclaim for her unassuming virtuosity and musicality. "...a beautifully delineated, unusually vivid account," said Allan Kozinn in the New York Times. "A perfect combination of grace and concentration, fluidity and intensity," wrote Timothy Mangan in the New Times Los Angeles.
Cheng's second Telarc recording, still focusing on music of the 20th century, features an unusual and highly varied collection of dance music written for the piano. "I needed something that was fun to work on," said Cheng of the recording project. "The idea was to represent each decade of the 20th century and to show that these composers, widely considered to be dead serious and esoteric, actually quite knew how to rock," she said. These twenty-three concert compositions range from the familiar sounds of Debussy's charming Golliwog's Cakewalk, to the experimental juxtaposition by Henry Cowell of a traditional Celtic Reel with loud tone clusters in Lilt of the Reel; the fascinating combination of classical and pop influences in Ligeti's Hungarian Rock (originally written for harpsichord and adapted by Cheng for piano and synthesized piano); the cheekiness of Hindemith's Shimmy from his Suite:1922; and the ferocity of Antheil's Percussion Dance.
Nationalism is represented in Martinu's Polka in E major, and expressions of the sounds and imagery of their native lands can be heard in Bartok's Roumanian Dances; Mompou's Cancións y Danzas, Ginastera's Danzas Criollas, and Joan Huang's Red Ribbon Dance.
The tango has been a popular form for many composers; it is well represented here by Stravinsky (Tango was the first piece he composed in America), Barber (in his Hesitation-Tango), and experimental composer Per Nergord, who combines a tango with a waltz to illustrate the story of the race between the Tortoise and Achilles, in Tortoise's Tango.
Other compositions include Mazurkas of Scriabin; a work by the late William Albright; a short piece by Samuel Adler; and works by Prokofiev, Glass, Poulenc, Ornstein, Ravel, California native composer Donald R. Davis, and American composer Miguel del Aguila.