American Record Guide, November - December 2007

MOON: Piano Sonata; Submerged; In

Transit; Guernica; Inter-Mez-Zo; Toccata;

Ode; Fantasy; Nursery; The Secret; Prelude

Beata Moon—Naxos 570347—60 minutes

Beata Moon is a Korean-American, born in North Dakota (1969), and is largely self-taught as a composer, but was nonetheless vigorously trained in piano from the age of 5, finishing at Juilliard with a degree in piano performance. This music is all for piano and was composed from 1996 to 2006, Ms Moon performs her own works here, and it's hard to imagine anyone else bringing such near-surgical exactness and feints of keen emotion to these wonderful pieces. You won't find anyone's influence here, but you do get a glimpse of everything and everyone she's ever studied, living and dead. Most pieces here sound largely improvisational, but only because she dips into jazz motifs (common to Bernstein) as easily as she slides through whole sections of structured atonality (as in Guernica, the most somber work here), Ms Moon's compositional style seems to be based on surprises at the turn of every page or every other bar.

The Piano Sonata and Inter-Mez-Zo (both 2006) are full of jaunty filigrees and perky flourishes (and note that nice homage to Shostakovich in the sonata). There are no flights of narcissism here, but neither are there gestures of prolixity. She's not writing to her peers: she's entertaining. Composers sometimes lose sight of that one important detail. 

So here is a collection of finely performed and intellectually (and emotionally) stimulating works for contemporary piano. I liked this quite a lot and will return to it often.