After listening intently to Horowitz’s reading, I was curious to find others to compare.
No doubt a diversity of opinion surrounds any performance, but I had some ideas about why I liked one reading over another.
Daniel Barenboim: I always find that his playing is not only inspiring but thoughtful. He delivers an intimate performance here in beautiful simplicity not trying to overdo any Romantic effect by applying extreme rubato. He respects the natural flow of phrases and lets them almost play themselves. What I’ve noticed in general about his artistry, is that he is likely to take a slower tempo than most, and yet, he can rivet the listener to his every phrase, because he communicates the music on more than one level. I gain insights by each of his readings.
This pianist always impresses with his color palette, glowing phrasing and nuance, as well as energy abundance. In this reading, the flourishes in the upper range are played a tad too quickly compared to Horowitz and Barenboim. And more liberties are taken, in the rubato arena, perhaps a bit exaggerated at some moments–although in the main, I find Lang Lang to be so wonderfully connected to whatever music he plays, that fussing over this or that detail of interpretation may be superfluous.
George Li at 16, renders an age-defying, riveting performance. It has all the desired elements of great playing. A nice, wide palette of dynamics and nuance; a sustained singing tone approach; rubato that is not overdone; a going with the flow, sinuous phrasing that is well-spun. Li holds listeners in his hands from beginning to end.
I applaud George for this reading! Bravo!! May more people visit this site and enjoy your artistry! And Congratulations on the Oberlin Conservatory scholarship. (My alma mater!)
A bit about George lifted from his website:
2010 was a Milestone Year for pianist George Li. In July, George performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland Orchestra and won first prize in the Cooper International Piano Competition 2010; the prize package includes a full, four-year scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and concerto performances in Beijing and Shanghai, China. In November, George won first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, awarding him debut recital opportunities in New York, Washington D.C., and Boston.
Born in August 1995, George Li (黎卓宇) is a 10th grade student at the Walnut Hill School and the New England Conservatory (NEC) Preparatory School, where he studies piano with Ms. Wha Kyung Byun (卞和暻). George’s previous piano teachers include Mrs. Dorothy Shi (杨镜钏) and Mr. Yin Chengzong (殷承宗).
A heartfelt, Old World, nuanced interpretation, with especially poignant, affective transitions from minor to major. The final sonority has Bernstein’s emblematic, to-die-for delay, that leaves the listener spellbound. I personally like the slower, lingering performance which does not over indulge rubato.
Back to Vladimir Horowitz and what I said about his performance in my last blog posting.