SHORT SPINS

Asian pop THE BEST OF 1999-2013 Mayday B'in Music International Just as Facebook has debased the value of "like" by reducing it to a mere mouse click, the best-of tag has been cheapened as well - by producers slapping it on one too many hastily assembled compilations.

Some such compilations are from one-hit wonders or acts with only a couple of albums to their names, making the tag even more baffling. Here, then, is a bona fide best-of collection from a top-notch act: Taiwanese rock band Mayday.

And having put out nine studio albums - from Mayday's First Album (1999) to The Second Round (2011) - the band have more than enough material to fill this double-disc release.

New Mayday fans will do well to start here. The anthology showcases the breadth of the band's work - from gorgeous ballads, such as Like Smoke, to rocking stompers, such as Androgyny. A best-of collection is a more tricky proposition for fans who already own all Mayday albums.

For such faithful supporters, the band have included a worthy new track, Side By Side, and also songs from film and TV soundtracks. For example, Battle Array Song is from the TV drama Lanling Wang's soundtrack (2013), while Eternal Summer is from the 2006 soundtrack of the youth movie of the same name.

The tracks were previously available on the individual soundtrack albums or as live versions in concert recordings. Some of the numbers are also given a new arrangement. Fan favourite Tenderness is effectively reworked in a spare manner, with a piano accompanying lead singer Ashin's plaintive voice.

For all its merits, this selection is neither perfect nor complete. How could Minnan classic Peter And Mary and the heartbreaking Innocence not be included here? Then again, true-blue fans can go on debating what goes into an ultimate Mayday song collection - until the next best-of disc drops.

Boon Chan Classical RACHMANINOV SYMPHONY NO. 1 PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 Yevgeny Sudbin, piano Singapore Symphony Orchestra/Shui Lan BIS 2012.With this album, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) completes its cycle of Rachmaninov's three symphonies.

This is the finest of the three recordings as Shui Lan and his charges, having worked on the Russian romantic's music over the years, nail the composer's early, rough and ready style. The First Symphony In D minor was abandoned by Rachmaninov after its disastrous premiere in 1897, but was rediscovered and pieced together after his death.

A raw diamond, this is his most original utterance despite its apparent flaws. Its brooding Slavic temperament, built upon the "vengeance motif", and influences from the Russian Orthodox church are most palpable here.

Its existence puts into perspective Rachmaninov's final work, Symphonic Dances, which now sounds like the epilogue of a journey which this work fitfully started. Listen to the music's sheer vehemence, paradoxical tenderness and vulnerability, all captured in a broad sweep of its four movements by the SSO.

The coupling is also excellent, with young Russian virtuoso Yevgeny Sudbin making his mark in the early and lyrical First Piano Concerto (revised in 1917), a recording comparable with the best in the catalogue.

Chang Tou Liang 20th-century classics PROKOFIEV PIANO CONCERTO NO. 3 BARTOK PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 Lang Lang, piano Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle Sony Classical 88883732252 ****½ This is Lang Lang's first concerto disc for the Sony Classical label, and a rare recorded excursion into music more modern than Rachmaninov.

Both he and his famous partners have definite, if not conventional, ideas for Prokofiev's third piano concerto. Running over half an hour, this is one of the slower versions of the work. Most play for about 28 minutes, while the composer himself clocked under 25 minutes.

This was achieved by deliberately slowing down certain sections in all movements while keeping the fast-paced pages up to speed. The grotesquery inherent in Prokofiev's score invites a latitude of interpretations, exploited here to the fullest without resorting to caricature.

If there is any pianist who could actually popularise Bartok's second piano concerto, the thorniest of the Hungarian composer's trilogy, it might be Lang Lang. This take is a tad leisurely at 30 minutes, but there is little sense of him lagging. Instead, the clarity of articulation in its neoclassical pages, coupled with an overriding virtuosity, is hard to ignore.

The music's primal rawness and aggressive edge are retained but polished to a fine sheen in this recording. Who would have thought that Bartok could sound this friendly? It is imperative that these same forces get to bring out Prokofiev's second and Bartok's third piano concertos as well.


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