LSM-ONLINE-LOGO2JPG.jpg (4855 bytes)


Back Issues
LSM Issues
LSV Issues

Throat Doctor
Concert Reviews
CD Critics
Books Reviews
PDF Files


About LSM
LSM News
Guest Book
Contact Us
Site Search
Web Search

La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles


Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

Yundi Li: Live from the 14th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition

By Joseph So September 18, 2001

Volume 1: Concerto No. 1 in E Minor op. 11; Concerto No. 2 in F Minor op. 21, Ingrid Fliter, piano. Volume 2: Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, op. 58; Four Mazurkas, op. 33; Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise in E-flat, op. 22; Nocturne No. 13 in C Minor, op. 48, no. 1; Waltz No. 5 in A-flat, op. 12; Etude in A Minor, op. 25; Ballade NO. 4 in F Minor, op. 52.
Yundi Li, piano
Maxell ME3-50002-3

For those lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold out Canadian debut recital of the sensational Yundi Li at the George Weston Recital Hall in Toronto last month, they were treated to a marvelous display of virtuoso pianism that clearly showed why this 18-year old won the gold medal at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw last October, the first one awarded in fifteen years. If you missed the Toronto concert, you will want to hear this two-CD set recorded live in Warsaw. Volume one features Li in Piano Concerto No. 1, plus the added bonus of Concerto No. 2 played by another finalist, Ingrid Fliter. Marketed on the Maxell label for the Asian market, this disc does not have a Canadian distributor, but it can be purchased directly from, a company that sells CDs of Chinese classical artists.

There is no shortage of hotshot keyboard wunderkind before the public today – Evgeny Kissin and more recently Lang Lang come readily to mind. Yundi Li compares quite favorably to these two artists, a certain youthful exuberance and relative inexperience on Li's part notwithstanding. Just listen to his recital on disc 2, identical to the program on his current tour, except for the Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31 being replaced by Waltz No. 5 and Etude in A minor, the so-called "Winter Wind". The technical prowess is evident throughout. The scherzo movement in Sonata No. 3 is remarkable for his fluid fingering, lightning speed, and an overall lightness of touch. The fearsome demands of Etude in A minor pose no terror for Li, who meets the challenges head on with a stunning display of technical virtuosity. The same can be said for the ending to the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise, a lengthy piece that is beautifully shaped and sustained.

But Li is more than just technique, which would be boring after awhile. His playing has soul and poetry. The gentle lyricism of the mazurkas is idiomatic and musical, the phrasing at once elegant and idiomatic. It is not surprising that Li won the Polonaise Prize, given to the contestant best in interpreting this Polish genre. Given that Li was entirely Chinese-trained, perhaps more than anything else, his winning of the Polonaise Prize underscores the idea that art is universal. And it certainly brings back memories of the feat of the venerable Fou T'song, another Chinese pianist, who won the Mazurka prize way back in 1955.

Deutsche Grammophon has signed Li to an exclusive contract and no doubt the pieces on this CD set will be recorded in the studio very soon. But the Maxell release will always have a special place for collectors, for its sense of occasion that captures well the spontaneity and excitement one has come to expect from the best of live performances. The recorded sound is warm and atmospheric, the audience extremely well-behaved, with only an unavoidable cough here and there. This release is a remarkable document not to be missed.

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

(c) La Scena Musicale 2000