Emperor / Fantasy - Beethoven & Schumann
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
YUNDI records Beethoven s Emperor Concerto with conductor Daniel Harding and the Berlin Philharmonic. The recording includes a performance of a solo work, Schumann s Fantasie in C.
YUNDI will support the album release with a 25 city European tour from February to April, 2014. Subsequent China and Japan tours are planned during 2014.
His 2012 album of Beethoven sonatas was chosen as one of Classic FM s Albums of the Year 2013. Of the same disc Sinfini wrote that the colours are orchestral, the drama operatic. The album achieved Platinum status in China.
Digital Booklet: Emperor / Fantasy - Beethoven & Schumann
Digital Booklet: Emperor / Fantasy - Beethoven & Schumann
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Anyway, Beethoven composed his Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat, Op. 73, "Emperor," in 1809, premiering it in 1811 and dedicating it to the Archduke Rudolf, his patron and student at the time. It was the composer's final piano concerto, and it would go on to become one of his most-popular pieces of music. The work's "Emperor" nickname, though, was not of Beethoven's doing. In fact, he probably would not have liked it, given his disillusionment with the Emperor Napoleon. It was most likely Beethoven's publisher who gave the piece the "Emperor" appellation, or possibly it was the fact that Beethoven first presented the music in Vienna at a celebration of the Austrian Emperor's birthday.
No matter who's playing the "Emperor," the pianist must provide a big, bold opening Allegro, and here Yundi does so in spades, the whole performance full of energy, enthusiasm, and, above all, virtuosity. Maestro Harding maintains some brisk tempos, yet they are never terribly fast or rushed, so both the piano playing and the orchestral accompaniment seem well within the Romantic tradition.
In the opening, where the piano enters immediately, Yundi is dazzling, his finger work a marvel to hear. This is a spectacular realization of the score, with the Berlin Philharmonic providing a sparkling accompaniment. Yet for all the ear-catching dazzle, it still left me wondering if Serkin, Kovacevich, Ashkenazy, Kempff, and others don't provide a more penetrating interpretation. While Yundi surely maintains a riveting forward momentum, he hardly slows down enough to give us much more than that, and when he does relax, it seems almost perfunctory, as though the score simply obligated him to do so, without much real feeling in it. Exciting, as I say, yes, and for many listeners that's no doubt more than enough. To which I say, fair enough; it is quite magnificent piano playing.
Although Yundi takes the Adagio a bit more briskly than any of the pianists I mentioned above, he nevertheless keeps the mood glowingly serene and effects a smooth melodic flow throughout. Again, however, the movement failed to touch me as much as other renditions have, the melancholy of the music somewhat eluding the pianist. Then Yundi makes a seamless transition into the final Rondo-Allegro, which may seem a little too calculated for some ears but worked fine for me. He ends things on an appropriately rollicking, heroic note.
German composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote his Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17 for solo piano in 1836, revising it for publication in 1839. The first movement is melodious and impassioned, the second movement grand and majestic, and the finale leisurely and contemplative. Beethoven was apparently the inspiration for Schumann when he wrote the Fantasy, along with Schumann's longing for his beloved Clara. Yundi says of the work, "I wanted to create a sonority which echoes what Schumann called 'drawing a veil' over the music. What lies beneath the veil could be palpable, but one can never really tell what it is or what it looks like. This is the sense of the Fantasy--a grey area where reality and Romanticism co-exist. I hope the listener will be able to hear this complexity in my recording and pick up on this feeling of not being able to put one's finger on something."
I found Yundi's realization of Schumann more to my liking than his Beethoven, with not just the music but even the piano sounding more resonant and glowing. That I continue to wish he would communicate a greater emotional range in his playing is probably attributable to my own sentimentality rather than any reflection on Yundi's style. His Fantasy has a sweet, calming, uplifting effect on one's spirit, and one can hardly complain about that.
The sound in the Concerto is supremely clear and clean, every note reproduced in minute detail. It's also just a tad bright and forward in the upper midrange, with only modest orchestral depth, but these are minor concerns. The Berlin Philharmonic produce a rich, lush, glorious sound, and it's good to hear them miked at a moderate distance in a studio, without an audience present. The piano is dominant, of course, yet it isn't so far forward that it spoils the illusion of realism. The piano in the Fantasy sounds, as I say, warmer and more resonant, a touch less hard and bright.
John J. Puccio
Yundi's interpretation of Shumann's Fantasy is one of the most satisfying version for me. The deep emotion in the first movement, and the split and contradictive spirit between two and three are well delivered by him. Many of the pianists did not hit the spot because they may view this schizoid personality as a weakness, I guess. I admire Yundi because his performance fellows the score sheet and the truth faithfully.
Its success depends upon your perspective. Yundi's consideration of Beethoven as a musical challenge concentrates almost solely on fingerwork. In the opening flourish of the emperor, for example, he doesn't phrase but instead tosses off a volley of notes at high speed. Comparisons with Schnabel, Gieseking, Michelangeli, and Serkin would be devastating. But there's another perspective, which begins by noting that those keyboard giants are long dead, and that pianism in general has shifted away from "depth" (define it was you will) to dazzle, a shift that audiences are happy to go along with.
If that's your viewpoint, Yundi is a dazzler, and the fact that he is disconnected from the great Beethoven tradition of the past is beside the point. The accompaniment that Daniel Harding provides sounds to me like a vigorous run through; there's not much consideration of style from him, either, and there's no doubt that the Berlin Phil. (the priciest orchestra for the job, reflecting Yundi's sales power) can do a run-through as well as it can be done.
As for his virtues musiclaly, Yundi isn't a banger, and his fortissimo chords, captured in excellent, undistorted sound, are powerful in the the right way, not merely an assault on the keys. He knows how to play softly, and in general I found his phrasing less flat-footed and literal-minded than in the previous sonata program. But the slow movement, taken as an Andante (walking pace) rather than an Adagio, isn't very tender or atmospheric - here Yundi does sound too literal, despite his feathery touch. the considerable difficulties of the finale are beautifully, even effortlessly handled; the second subject is a bit inert, however, where it needs to be springy and joyful. This is essentially a safe, proficiently handled Emperor delivered with tremendous technical aplomb, and if you want this concerto to be a thrill ride, Yundi's closest rival is probably Kissin with Levine on Sony, where the thrills are even more exciting.
Kissin's fairly early (1996) recording of the Schumann Fantasy might be a god starting point for listening to Yundi's. Like Richter, a truly great Schumann interpreter, Kissin easily encompasses the score's virtuosic side, but he's less secure with its poetic and reflective side - he applies the right gestures in a less personal way. Richter was such a powerful force that he could muscle through Schumann with a certain aggression while still communicating the poetry - the combination felt like volatile, spontaneous Romanticism. with Kissin there was a certain loss of passion and personality, but you felt his link to the past.
With Yundi, the technically difficult first movement is tossed off with panache, and his phrasing feels quite natural, perhaps because Schumann is so close to Liszt's effusiveness, and Yundi began his career by impressing critics with both his Liszt and Chopin. the only problem is that he's structurally wayward; each passage is beautiful, but segmented from the next passage. the tempo is also a bit doggedly forward-moving. The second movement is a march that Richter tore into with a vengeance. Yundi is smoother and more fluid. The big first statement comes off well, but he gets into the weeds with the cross-rhythms and weaving subjects that follow. It's like hearing the Hammerklavier Sonata played by leaping for one tough technical passage to the next without much to knit them together. Most judges of pianism consider the third movement the most challenging to hold together without dissolving into pastel reverie. Yundi tends to wander, even by comparison with the somewhat impersonal Kissin. There is also a prevailing air of caution that surprised me.
so nothing here rises to the level of truly memorable interpretation, but everything is clean, shapely, and tasteful. The solo piano sounds gorgeous in the Schumann. I doubt that DG will have any difficulty finding a market for Yundi's efforts, and in the wider viewpoint, he's doing a service by undertaking the Viennese tradition.