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Yundi performs at the Emirates Palace Ballroom. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival
Yundi performs at the Emirates Palace Ballroom. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival

Chinese piano prodigy Yundi gives note-perfect Abu Dhabi recital

On Sunday night, Yundi took to the Steinway in the Emirates Palace Ballroom for a much-anticipated performance.

After Yundi’s 2010 concert was cancelled after the tragic death of Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s music lovers finally got to witness the Chinese piano prodigy’s talent.

Although his fellow virtuoso Lang Lang may be the better known of the two, Yundi’s renown is gradually gaining ground on his illustrious compatriot.

On Sunday night, Yundi took to the Steinway in the Emirates Palace Ballroom for a much--anticipated recital.

As the youngest winner of the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (he was just 18), Yundi’s career is indubitably linked with the 19th-century Polish -composer.

But while Lang Lang’s -playing style is all about flamboyant punchiness, Yundi, now 30, exhibits a graceful delicacy in his technique. This lends him perfectly to the Polish composer’s subtle, sweet tunes. So it was no surprise that Chopin made up the majority of this concert’s set list.

Beginning with the haunting Nocturne No 1 in B Flat Minor, Yundi pulled off the pieces’ quiet flourishes and thunderous climaxes with aplomb.

Chopin’s most- recognised piece, the exquisite Nocturne No 2 in E Flat Major, was also a note-perfect display of musicianship.

The works of Beethoven also were in Yundi’s repertoire, with the Appassionata Sonata No 23 in F Minor and Sonata No 8 in C Minor bookending the interval. In both, he perfectly captured the depth of expression and emotional intensity of the compositions.

The only gripe, however, were the audience members who paid no heed to the explicit pre--concert announcements asking everyone to turn off their mobile phones.

In an intimate concert venue such as this, few things irritate more than having the stirring crescendo of a Beethoven piece punctuated by an iPhone’s -marimba ringtone.

hberger@thenational.ae

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