Extravagantly gifted and highly accomplished virtuoso pianist Yundi Li returns with a dazzling new album of music that will astound as well as inspire you to keep listening.
Yundi Li is being groomed for superstardom. He's got the looks, youth, and keyboard athleticism to fill that role, but on the basis of this all-Chopin disc (and his previous Chopin and Liszt recitals), he still lacks the interpretive maturity that translates into staying power. His B minor Scherzo, for example, comes off as excessively sectional, and its central section lacks poetry. Other works here fare better, but his attention appears focused on pianistic fluency and dazzling finger work, often at the expense of a full measure of emotional communication. The Impromptus, lovely as they are in places, tend to blandness. Li compensates for his lack of depth and spontaneity with a beautiful tone, remarkably even runs, and precise articulation at high speeds, attributes which should be sufficient for many. If you're looking for the rhetorical, probing grandeur of an Arrau or the emotional directness of a Rubinstein you'll look elsewhere. But if you're in tune with Pollini's detached, objective Chopin and enjoy hearing a skilled pianist perform impressive technical feats on the instrument, you'll want this disc. --Dan Davis