24-year-old Chinese pianist Yundi Li gave a virtuoso performance last month in Toronto, to which he received a standing ovation.
At age 18, Li was the first person in 15 years to win first prize in the prestigious Chopin International Piano Competition in Poland.
This man is also a player with personality, much like superstars of yore like Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein. Like those 20th-century legends, Li imprints the music he plays with a personal esthetic that may not necessarily be true to the original score or to mainstream style.
In the case of last night’s program of crowd-pleasing dazzlers by Mozart, Schumann and Liszt, Li grabbed great handfuls of notes and shaped them into his own artworks with an iron will and breathtaking virtuosity.
But many of the results were odd, even off-putting.
In the case of Mozart’s popular Piano Sonata No. 10 in C Major, K.330, Li overlaid the Classical-era purity of sound with a Romantic sensibility. This made for a sweetness that became downright saccharine in the slower second movement.
Read the full review: Young pianist’s technique magical