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Chopin: Scherzi/Impromptus Import

20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, January 11, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 11, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B0002SZVUO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,722 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Wham on January 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I have been very excited after listening to this CD. Again, this disc demonstrated Li's virtuosity and poetic style. There are plenty of fresh and inspiring interpretations without any distortion whatsoever. From the way he had played these pieces, you know he is an artist with great depth.

Li's scherzi are more dramatic, masculine and full of contrasts if you compare him with other pianists such as Pollini, Ashkenazy, Martha argerich, Ivo Pogorelich, Dang Thai Son, Arthur Rubinstein, Samson Francois, Josef Hofmann, Claudio Arrau, Benedetti Micheiangeli, Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter and a few others. I have never heard scherzi played with so much virtuosity and contrasts before. Li had played these scherzi with rare clearity and details. He had brought out all the details not only from the outer section, there are clear details from the bass as well. You will notice at once his clear bass for bar 14, 15, 22 and 23 of scherzo No.1 which I don't hear from other pianists. I thought I had liked Benedetti Micheiangeli's scherzo No. 2 the best, but Li's scherzo No.2 is even more inspiring and masculine. The way he surged forward and slowing down, you seem to agree with every note he had played. But what you will enjoy most is the emotion Li had put in for these scherzi. Li's scherzi is full of life, youthful energy and passion. He is just the opposite to Pollini who is always too detached and clinical for me. It's exactly the emotion and virtuosity he had put in for these four scherzi that had distinguished his scherzi from others'. At the end of Scherzi No.3, Li had built up the crescendo gradually with great virtuosity and then just exploded with full emotion. I had never enjoyed scherzi so much before.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By V. Makarov on February 12, 2005
Format: Audio CD
As a musician myself i take great care in reviewing others' works. I would like to start by addressing what I believe is a common "mistake" in music analysis. For example, comparing Pollini or Arrau with Yundi Li and Leif Andsnes. Just as music evolves, so does its audience. What stirred the soul in 1950 may not be equivalent today. Further, since the pieces do not change while pianists do, they are forced to play it differently if for no other reason than to avoid comparison. Today's pianist has to address today's audience. Thus, if you are buying Li's cd to hear something that sounds like Arrau or Horowitz I believe you are missing the point. In the end the pianist's appeal should rest on the individual soul.

Having said that I wish to comment on the more "academic" aspects of the work. What is striking about Yundi's playing is his sense of continuity. He seems to understand intuitively the evolution and structure of the individual piece. This is a trait that is essential in composition. Great veteran pianists possess this as well. For his age it is remarkable. Second, he has a very smooth style that combines sensitivity with a sense of effortlessness. For this reason, overall I believe his Chopin is better than his Liszt. This is not to say that he has an inadequate sense of drama. His finale to the third scherzo is rather impressive. Third, he has his own voice - a pre-requisite for a lasting career.

It will certainly be interesting to see him record something from the classical repertoire, like Beethoven. In the mean time, I would highly recommend this CD to all piano lovers. For now its four stars...hopefully the best is yet come from this very promising talent.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By David H. Spence on March 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is the third disc released by this amazing young Chinese pianist and 2000 winner of the Warsaw Chopin prize - the first winnner of first prize there in fifteen years (contest held every five) - after the jury may have been embarrassed by who they gave it out to one or two previous times. This disc, above the other two he has released (though the Liszt is certainly very nearly worth owning too), shows a thorough command of the idiom, whereas his debut first Chopin disc did not quite. Li continues his studies in Hannover with Arie Vardi, and took a year off from making any recordings, before making this one. He's 22 and taking his time, i.e., has not made it here to Houston yet, whereas we've had five visits from Lang Lang, so at least a few of us here hope he will eventually get around to us.

Emotional connection with the music on this disc shows a little containment or a slight lack of abandon in a few spots, but he makes something very dramatic and narrative about the B-Flat Minor Scherzo, and which reveals an unusually heard grand formal scheme to this warhorse, very convincingly making something of the charnel house out of it - better than the more laidback Rubinstein (1959, RCA) mentioned below. He takes the almost enormous risk of a huge, very steeply arched crescendo toward the end of the C-sharp Minor. He also brings a special feeling of melancholy to the middle section of the fourth in E Major, as he also does in the second impromptu over very controlled rolling octaves, if he misses the little extra lightness that Rubinstein brings to arpeggi and trills in a few spots during the fourth scherzo here.
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