Yundi: Chopin Ballades CD review – plenty of thrilling moments

Yundi
(Deutsche Grammaphon)

Following on from his Chopin Preludes disc comes Li Yundi’s first recording of what are arguably the composer’s biggest challenges: the four Ballades. They are coolly but compellingly dispatched, with Yundi generally passing up opportunities to score easy dramatic points in favour of taking the long view, shaping the pieces into a single span. There are plenty of thrilling moments, however – the ending of the Ballade No 1, for example, which is almost violently stark, and the way the scales rattle crisply and unstoppably up and down in the buildup to the climax of No 4. The Ballades always seem rhythmically grounded; the four Op 17 Mazurkas, which he teams them with, bring out a more rhapsodic, sometimes playful approach. Occasionally one misses the effects: if he has a magical, extra-soft tone in his box of tricks, we don’t hear it, even in the gently rocking Berceuse that clears the air after the fourth Ballade.

Contributor

Erica Jeal

The GuardianTramp

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