Yundi - Live in Beijing
CD: Frédéric CHOPIN(1810-1849)
Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante in E flat, op.22
Piano Sonata no.2 in B flat minor, op.35 [23:09]
4 Mazurkas, op.33 [9:38]
2 Nocturnes op.9 [9:05]
Nocturne op.15 no.2 [3:10]
Polonaise A flat, op.53 [6:22]
Etude in C minor, op.10 no.12 [2:31] Traditional
Cai Yun Zhui Yue ('Colourful Clouds Chasing the Rainbow') [3:05]
As above, plus:- Frédéric CHOPIN
Nocturne in D flat, op.27 no.2
Nocturne in C minor, op.48 no.1
Yundi (Li) (piano)
rec. National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, 15 May 2010.
EMI CLASSICS 6316392 [70:58] (CD) + [75.00] ]
Numerous previous recordings by Yundi, formerly known as Yundi
Li and more properly as Li Yundi, have been reviewed on this
site since he first came to prominence a decade ago. These were
usually greeted with enthusiasm - as here
or, after a memorable opening salvo, here.
By his own admission, Yundi's speciality is Chopin: this is
in fact his fourth all-Chopin disc, the first two released on
his first label, Deutsche Grammophon. Both DG and EMI, who signed
Yundi last year, have the means and the inclination to hype
their artists to the sky, but the usual hagiography has been
mercifully toned down for this release at least. That said,
the front cover does not even mention Chopin, the biography
in the booklet is restrained, and the notes are much more focused
on the composer, at least as seen through Yundi's mind.
The CD opens with Chopin's two-for-one, theAndante Spianato
and Grande Polonaise Brillante which Yundi must already
have performed more than any other Chopin specialist - indeed
he describes it as "my signature piece". Yundi played it on
his debut 'Chopin Recital' CD for DG in 2001. It is not one
of Chopin's greatest works, but the Polonaise certainly
lives up to its name, and Yundi plays here with far more confidence
and feeling than back then.
Elsewhere, Yundi gives particularly eloquent, expressive accounts
of the B minor Mazurka, the Nocturne in F sharp,
and in the simple but profound Nocturne in E flat there
is every sign of an artist coming into maturity. All the works
in this programme have been recorded dozens if not hundreds
of times before, and Yundi has an awful lot of competition,
but he is beginning to develop a style of his own that is sufficiently
powerful and different to be desirable without necessarily needing
to be better.
A case in point is Yundi's rendition of the magnificentPiano
Sonata in B flat minor, or Chopin's "four unruly children",
in Schumann's famous words. The controlled sheer speed of the
first and fourth movements seems to coax new sonorities out
of Chopin's music. This is not a poetic account by any stretch,
the almost thundering March funèbre least of all. It
does however offer a strangely alluring muscle-vest alternative.
Yundi rounds off his recital with a barnstorming Etude in
C minor, op.10 no.12 played at a 'Revolutionary' speed -
the 2'31 on the track listing includes 25 seconds of applause!
Given that this is a live recording, the sound quality is excellent
- the National Centre for the Performing Arts has a fine acoustic.
Audiences in China cough and rustle and occasionally burst into
applause before the music has finished much as elsewhere, but
all within reason.
Very generously, the CD includes a DVD of the same concert,
with an extra two Nocturnes thrown in. Surprisingly perhaps,
the order of items on the DVD is different - presumably the
true version. The order is: the 5 Nocturnes, followed
by the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, followed
by the four Mazurkas, the Sonata, the Polonaise
and finally the two encores. The DVD production is pleasantly
low-key, with good sound and no jaunty or arty camera angles,
although the lighting on Yundi is harsh. There are no subtitles
either, so anyone unfamiliar with the music must use the chapter
headings to identify individual pieces.
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