Telarc presents a unique recording coupling the music of two major 20th-century composers, including the world premiere on disc of Riley's The Heaven Ladder.
California-based pianist Gloria Cheng has become a favored collaborator with some of the most demanding of today's composer/conductors, including Pierre Boulez, Essa-Pekka Salonen and Oliver Knussen, for her renditions of thorny 20th century scores.
"She is technically fearless and meticulously attentive to complex rhythms, she can sustain a bold melodic line splendidly, and her playing has a powerful attack," raved Gramaphone in its prestigious Classical Good CD Guide for 1997, reviewing her first disc of the music of Messaien.
Cheng has been chosen by many composers to premiere their new works, including John Adams, Pierre Boulez, David Raksin and Chinary Ung. She is featured here in the world premiere recording of Riley's "The Heaven Ladder, Book 7," commissioned by her and written in 1994. Cheng was forced to create her own performing "edition" of the piece while working closely with Riley to incorporate his suggestions and ideas. Other music on the disc includes Riley's The Walrus in Memorium and Adams' China Gates and Phrygian Gates.
"In the end, I think I probably arrived at something midway between his ideas and my own...he's very pleased with it," Cheng said.
As a soloist, Cheng has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Ojai Festival, Aspen Music Festival and the Festival der Kunste Bad Gleichenberg (Austria). She is also a much sought-after chamber musician, and has performed in major festivals worldwide including the Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival, Ars Musica Brussels and Tanglewood.