Following his 2015 release of Frédéric Chopin's Préludes on Deutsche Grammophon, Yundi Li continues his survey of the Polish master's works with the Four Ballades, the Berceuse in D flat major, and the Four Mazurkas, Op. 17. Yundi's album is part of his ongoing Chopin Project, which has the appearance of being his life's work, so closely is he associated with this music. In keeping with Chopin's preferences, Yundi plays with calm introspection and flexibility in his phrasing, which gives the music a spontaneity that avoids formulaic Romantic clichés. Most importantly, Yundi's use of rubato and his dynamic adjustments are appropriate to the music's flow and not employed for sentimentality or showmanship. Instead, Yundi gives the lyrical Ballades room to breathe, and the tugging of the tempo is always at the service of expression, rather than effect. To sample Yundi's exquisite treatment of line and pacing, the poetic opening of the Ballade in F major, Op. 38 (track two) is a good place to start. But for a livelier example, the Mazurka No. 1 in B flat major shows the pianist in fine form.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Four Mazurkas Op. 17|