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A Chinese pianist introducing Westerners to Chinese music is by no means a new idea – Lang Lang’s Dragon Songs (DG) is perhaps the most famous precursor. Yet it is Yundi’s playing that makes the most cogent and persuasive argument so far. Even he cannot rescue the Rachmaninov-squared saccharine sweetness of the Yellow River Concerto (based on Xian Xinghai’s Yellow River Cantata), yet this works far better than the Naxos effort, even in the finale (which reaches the heights of bombast).

The remainder of the disc is solo piano. Yundi frequently encores Chinese music, and the pieces he chooses are clearly fit for purpose, short yet often hauntingly enchanting. Yundi is charming in the Five Yunnan Folksongs, glittering in the Qinghai folksong In That Place Far Away, and does a fine imitation of a Chinese Liberace in Zhu Jianer’s Celebrating our New Life. Fascinating.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing