Stories » Yundi's sound exactly right for Chopin at Royal Festival Hall / The Telegraph

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Yundi's sound exactly right for Chopin at Royal Festival Hall / The Telegraph

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Anyone who dropped by the Royal Festival Hall last night at around 7.00pm would have assumed a pop star was on the billing. The place was swarming with ardent maidens, posing for selfies alongside PR photos of a tall languidly handsome young Chinese man with disdainful, romantic look. The star was in fact Yundi, the only rival to Lang Lang for title of leading Chinese pianist. It soon became clear that in many ways he's Lang Lang's opposite. Lang Lang mugs his every virtuoso move, like a conjuror who's just produced an especially fluffy bunny from his hat. Yundi when he plays is as impassive as Rachmaninov. Lang Lang gives way to intoxication as he plays, with mixed results. Yundi is always perfectly in control.

Chopin is the composer Yundi has always cleaved to, since becoming the youngest and the first ever Chinese winner of the Chopin competition in Warsaw in 2000. This all-Chopin recital, divided between the four Ballades and the 24 Preludes, showed why. His sound is exactly right for the composer, in the sense that it's beautiful in itself, and also perfectly lucid. The lovely 13th Prelude in F sharp major exemplified this exquisite tact. It was so perfectly balanced between the melody on top and the little curling accompaniment underneath that one could only sigh, sit back and enjoy.

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