Young Chinese classical piano sensation Li Yundi, the "successor of romantic pianist masters," has released his new album, "Chopin, Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1." The album includes Frederic Chopin's Piano Concerto No.1, Li's signature piece that helped him win the prestigious International Chopin Competition in 2000 at 18, becoming the youngest-ever winner.
In addition to Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, fans will also be able to enjoy Li's performance of Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1.
Li will have a solo concert at the Century Theater in Beijing on Dec 3. He will also perform at more than 20 concerts in the US in February under the baton of master conductors Leonard Slatkin and Kurt Masur. What's more, he will perform works from the 20th century with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa.
Some foreigners say Chopin and Liszt are Chinese musicians' typical choices. Li refutes these claims, saying that as a perfectionist, he always chooses to perform his favorite pieces with passion. It takes time to get to know a composer, he said. One or two years is very common.
Regarding the two piano concerto on the new album, Li had planned to record them a long time ago, but he never felt the time was right until he cooperated with Gustavo Dudamel, a conductor from Israel. Under him, Li Yundi gained confidence. He prefers to have a high starting point.
Born in 1982, Li is anxious to promote classical music to his peers. Li says he will have more contact with young people by keeping the originality of classical music to get them interested. "Meanwhile, I am growing up too. I hope we can still grow together when we are 30, 40, 50 years old. Children are affected by what they have seen and heard," he muses.
Filling a 15-year drought of champions at the International Chopin Competition, Li appears cool in front of crowds. Li said James Levin, a conductor from the US, helped and taught him a lot. "He told me a musician has to love music first. As a young guy in my 20s, the golden time for learning, I have to have a right direction for the future. It's better the earlier you get into art, but the more you practice, the more improvement is needed too. What's more, it doesn't fit the logic of music to sell your 'works' as a product," Li says.
Most Chinese media call Lang Lang, another famous young Chinese piano talent, a competitor of Li Yundi. Li says he doesn't care that the media compare them, though they are two different people with different backgrounds. It's common to have different people maintain the development of music.
Is it good that he has exceeded the commercial activities of Lang Lang? Li Yundi has his own perceptions.
"Commercial activities and promotions are totally different from the level of a musician. I studied in Germany for two years and cancelled a bunch of performances. That doesn't make people like me less. Promotion has nothing to do with music. Classical music is also another matter compared with pop music, which takes more attachment of form. You might reach people's expectations in a short time, but how about few years later?"
Li Yundi now lives an absolutely free lifestyle regarding his music and life. Whatever ideas come to his mind, he will go through with them to the end. He like traveling, swimming, driving and fashion when he is not busy. Two of his can't-miss passions besides music are fine wines and cuisines.
(CRI.com November 16, 2006)