After the hot guitar a couple days back, I thought some more flashy soloing would be fun, and the world currently has nobody flashier, on any instrument, than pianist Yundi Li, who seems to have rebranded himself as YUNDI. But I ended up at this Frédéric Chopin Fantaisie which has, yes, flash, but lots of music among and between it, and Mr Li really seems to understand Mr Chopin.
If he’s coming to your town, I recommend grabbing tickets; he’s obviously a really good pianist but also a showman. One of his gimmicks, which I really like, is that when it’s time for him to play, he strides onto the stage, plunks down on the piano bench, and his fingers hit the keyboard about 0.5 seconds later.
As an audio geek, I feel a little nervous about plugging Chopin in general or solo piano in particular, because there are no speakers in the world that sound anything like being in the room with 500kg of wood and steel being handled by a muscular well-practiced human artist. The real thing has a snarl and roar that reaches into your abdomen and then won’t let go.
But if you have to listen to recordings, Yundi Li’s Chopin: Recital is a good place to start: good audio, good selection of pieces, and Yundi Li in good form.
There’s a lot of really great Chopin music, but for me it’s just the for piano; the orchestral stuff goes right by me. In particular the Études and Nocturnes are full of deep wells of pure pleasure; if this series goes on long enough I’ll recommend one of the latter. Yeah, there’s lots of fast flashy stuff and it’s great, but there are also great pools of silence between and behind other parts of the music; Chopin knew just what he was doing.
The Fantaisie has both kinds of Chopin packed into just five minutes of music, obviously a good investment of anyone’s time.
Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify. As for video, I ran across a capture, on grainy low-rez video, of what appears to be the Deutsche Grammophon recording session for Fantaisie Impromptu.