Yundi @ Carnegie Hall, 5/20/10

A hearty crowd remained standing after two encores, clapping furiously in the hopes that Yundi would emerge from the stage door once more for a third. Seven years after his Carnegie Hall debut, Yundi (formerly known as Yundi Li) returned to the hallowed hall on May 20, 2010, with a tributary program for the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.

The mostly Chopin program recalled Yundi’s global splash back in 2000 when, at 18 years of age, he became the youngest winner of the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. He was the first winner in 15 years and the first Chinese recipient.

A quintet of Nocturnes comprised the first half of the program. During the second nocturne, the audience appeared entranced by the aural chorale of Yundi’s technique, phraseology, and emotive climaxes. The second half of the program featured a Rococo illustration of Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53. Yundi’s flurry of brushstrokes created a sunny landscape that dazzled in contrast to the dark interplay of Sonata No. 2. Applause, though often premature, erupted after each piece; an indication that small errors did not fetter overall enjoyment.

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