Yundi Li

The Red Piano

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After achieving stardom in the west with high-profile competition wins, concert performances, and recordings of the music of Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, Chinese pianist Yundi Li turns his abundant skills to the music of his homeland on EMI Classics' 2012 album The Red Piano. The most famous work on this disc is the Yellow River Piano Concerto, a product of the cultural revolution that emulates the grandiose gestures and heroic expressions of the Romantic piano concertos of Liszt, Grieg, and Rachmaninov. Anyone familiar with Yundi's powerful technical abilities and showmanship will find his playing to be true to form: propulsive, hard-edged, vigorous, and frequently brilliant, especially in the execution of runs and octaves. The energetic and colorful orchestral accompaniment is provided by the China NCPA Concert Hall Orchestra, conducted by Chen Zuohuang. Following the concerto, Yundi offers a selection of keyboard arrangements of Chinese songs, presented as a solo recital in a rather private and reflective mood. There's actually little of Yundi's dynamism here, and his flashiness is put more to shimmering effects than to demonstrations of prestidigitation. EMI's sound is excellent, so everything is fully audible with enormous presence in the concerto and intimate sound in the solo pieces.

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