One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger



AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Yundi Li: Vienna Recital
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonatas E, Kk380 [5'18]; G, Kk13 [4'28].
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Piano Sonata in C, K330/K300h (1781/3) [17'57].
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Carnaval, Op. 9 (1833-1835) [29'43].
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Rapsodie espagnole, S254 (c1863) [13'58].
Yundi Li (piano)
Rec. Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, June 2005. DDD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 5571 [71'30]

A case of misleading packaging here, I fear. When I first read, ' Yundi Li: Vienna Recital' I mistakenly believed this to be a recording of a public recital given in the great hall. Li is certainly playing there, but not a trace of audience is there this is a studio recording in DG's best style, clean and clinical.

Much the same adjectives could be applied to most of the recital. The Scarlatti sonatas are the exception to that description, being rather romanticised, so much so that the first (Kk380) borders on the Debussian at times. Despite Li's clear affection for both sonatas it is difficult to engage musically with these performances. The second is one of the more exuberant ones, and finds Li evidently trying to be stylish.

The Mozart sonata is clean if somewhat sterile. Not to say that Li cannot be robust - he can - but rather to suggest that Mozart's genius does not really come through. There is more than a suggestion of Li almost preening himself as he plays, admiring his own articulation. A miscalculated first downbeat - read 'a thump' - of the slow movement seals Li's lack of involvement. The finale only acts as confirmation, exhibiting little of the love of life and sheer joy this music contains.

Nice that DG has tracked each movement of Carnaval. Li is better here, if still not at one with his material. The fact that the score's difficulties and awkward corners present no problem to Li should not perhaps surprise us in this day and age. The work opens with a nice sense of showmanship some character, at last and jaw-dropping finger-work. Li proves he can project Schumann's more interior side ('Pierrot'), while his letters dance breathlessly. True, 'Pantalon et Colombine' is a rattley Presto and Eusebius is almost at melting point but not quite. At least Li is almost without parallel in his Vivo 'Pause' (the run-in to the finale). A pity though that the finale itself lacks grandeur, as it is this that is left to resonate in our minds.

Finally, some Liszt. This shows off Li's technique - as if we didn't know. Great double-octaves, magnificent facility and a sense of the pianist enjoying himself, at least most of the time. Just a tad more character would have made this truly memorable.

There is not enough here to justify a full-price release. Lavish booklet (fourteen pictures of Li) + Musikverein + excellent recording does not equal rewarding musical experience.

Colin Clarke



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.