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Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, June 2010

This intelligently structured and beautifully photographed film follows Yundi as he prepares with Seiji Ozawa for his Berlin Philharmonic debut. The chosen vehicle is Prokofiev’s horrendously demanding Second Piano Concerto. The warm relationship and a genuine collaboration between conductor and pianist is well captured (“He wants to play it faster,” shrugs Ozawa to the orchestra with an accommodating smile. “Well, he’s young”). Interwoven with the illuminating rehearsal footage—Yundi alone, with Ozawa, and with orchestra—we join the pianist on tour in China (including a performance of the Schumann-Liszt Widmung at a rock concert) and meet his star-struck family. Finger technique, accuracy and competition success are the chief pillars of the Chinese piano school. The casual acceptance of its ruthless methods, familiar from Lang Lang’s autobiography, is chilling. A Mr Wu was Yundi’s first teacher. “In the West,” says Yundi, “his teaching methods would be illegal…but I still benefitted from [him].’ Yundi’s mother boasts beamingly how she used knitting needles to hit his hands. “This would hurt him but it didn’t harm his bones or tendons. I only tried to scare him with it.” So that’s how you win the Chopin Competition these days. Cut from clips of Yundi’s 2000 triumph in Warsaw to the present day with Yundi in his top-of-the-range Merc. The bonus section features him playing the four Chopin Scherzos and Liszt’s La campanella live at the 2004 La Roque d’Anthéron Festival. You will not be disappointed.






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11:58:03 PM, 23 August 2014
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