Yundi Li: Liszt
Yundi Li's cult following can only be enhanced by his latest and perhaps best release for Deutsche Grammophon. In some ways, Li's youthful temperament is more suited to the music of Franz Liszt than the Chopin works that have brought him fame.
This CD will delight those who admire his musical accomplishments and the 'bonus' VCD, with its voyeuristic images added to Liszt's most popular music, can only add more names to the list of his adoring fans. The short encore pieces are all too familiar, but the surprise comes with Liszt's Sonata In B Minor, one of the great 19th-century works for piano and the only sonata the composer created for the instrument.
The component sections are merged into one long, continuous movement requiring the performer to create a sense of wholeness from dissimilar elements.
That Li can perform the work's fiendishly difficult pyrotechnics with extraordinary ease is not surprising, considering his past performances of technically demanding works. But his intuitive understanding of its structural unity adds a welcome sense of dignity to the music that is often missing in other recordings of the work.
Deutsche Grammophon's recorded sound is spacious, full-bodied and clear. To have earned a place alongside the many great artists who have recorded this work is a magnificent accomplishment for 20-year-old Li. Listen with an open mind and you won't be disappointed.