Jun Lin Wu- A star is born

Jaques Samuel Prize Winner’s Wigmore Hall recital.
An extraordinary debut recital by this 21 year old winner of the Jaques Samuel Intercollegiate Piano Competition .
I was at the final of the competition last November when this young man amongst some very fine contestants took us all by storm with a sensational account of Rachmaninov’s Sonata in B flat minor.
We saw each other again when he was in the audience for the extraordinary recital at the Chopin Society of his present teacher Dmitri Alexeev at the RCM in London.
I remember Craig Sheppard telling me about this remarkable young man when still in his teens he won the International Piano Competition in Seattle.
He has much in common with his mentor with his total involvement when he is seated at the piano and great sense of balance and colour.
A technique that like Alexeev knows no boundaries and is at the service of their search for the true musical meaning of the works that they transmit so fervently to us.

St Mary’s Perivale
Amazingly this young man was playing at the Wigmore Hall in the evening and the following morning playing in that mecca for pianists of Dr Hugh Mather at St Mary’s in Perivale.
A completely different programme comprising the Liszt Sonata and Haydn Sonata in B minor Hob XVI:32

Jun Lin Wu at the Wigmore Hall
And so it was that Jun Lin presented in the Wigmore Hall a very varied programme that demonstrated his remarkable musicianship and vast range of sound.
From the arresting opening of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy,through the most poetical musings of late Chopin.The radiant scents of the Spain of Albeniz to the sublime colours and pyrotechnics of Ravel.
Chopin’s nocturne in F sharp op.15 played as his last encore made it quite clear that we were in the presence of a true poet of the piano.
It was nice to see Terry Lewis of Jaques Samuels that indefatigable sustainer of young musicians giving this chance of a major debut in London to a young pianist.
He has recently been honoured by the RCM from the hands of Prince Charles in recognition of all that he does for music in London via his studio of Fazioli and Bechstein pianos in the centre of London.
It was also nice to see Dmitri Alexeev’s wife the distinguished teacher Tanya Sarkissova and his assistant the pianist Jianing Kong both supporting Jun Lin whilst his mentor was on tour in Germany.https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/jianing-kong-in-perivale/10154253331762309/
The concert manager Lisa Peacock and vice head of Keyboard at the RCM: Ian Jones were all present to sustain this young artist as he revealed his remarkable artistry to a musical world that awaits.

Jun Lin Wu at the Wigmore Hall
It was nice to see at last a Bechstein Concert Grand returning to it’s rightful home “Bechstein Hall” as Wigmore Hall was originally known from its opening in 1901.
In 1914 like all German businesses in Britain it was put into the hands of an official Receiver and Manager.
In November 1916 the hall was acquired at auction by Debenham and Freebody and was reopened on January 16 1917 renamed Wigmore Hall that we know today.
Artur Rubinstein gave the last concert of his life in May 1976 ( 75 years since his first appearance there) to persuade people not to allow the threatened demolition of one of London’s most cherished halls.
Since then the Wigmore Hall has gone from strength to strength and is today considered one of the most loved chamber music venues in the world.

Jun Lin Wu at the Wigmore Hall
And so it was thanks to our most generous benefactors Terry Lewis and Hugh Mather who gave us the opportunity to hear this remarkable young pianist twice in a range of repertoire in the span of only 24 hours.
The simplicity and youthful freshness with which this young man presents himself belies the profound subtlety of his art.
The extreme delicacy and range of expression in the quietest of passages is of Richter/Lupu proportions.
The two Chopin nocturnes op 62 amongst the last utterings of Chopin were played at the Wigmore and repeated in Perivale.
They say miracles do not occur twice but here we heard sounds as one would imagine only a mature aristocratic artist would be able to transmit.
Such finesse and flexibility of pulse whilst shaping the great melodic lines in a great arch surrounded by the most subtle counterpoints .

The completely natural simplicity of this young man in Perivale today
The sweeping ornaments were like great swells of sound in particular in op 62 n.1 that just enhanced the magic atmosphere that he was creating.
This is a true gift of the Gods and not something that can be taught .
The Chopin Scherzo op 54 was given a scintillating performance at the Wigmore Hall.With such astonishing technical command allied to his extreme sensibilty to sound he gave one of the finest performances that I have heard of this the most elusive of Chopin’s four Scherzi.
The Schubert Wanderer Fantasy at the Wigmore Hall was matched by Liszt’s masterpiece of the Romantic era :the Sonata in B minor.
The Schubert that opened the Wigmore Hall recital was in Jun Lin’s own words :” It is always a good choice for the beginning of a big recital,the Cmajor chords give strong expression to reflect the power of the performer”
Well it certainly did that but much much more besides.
The complete technical command meant that he could abandon himself to the almost savage demands that Schubert places on the performer.
With the great passion and energy of a young man he threw himself into the fray in a very exciting and sweeping performance.But here too was the beautiful shaping and sense of balance in the long lyrical passages that shows so poignantly the path that Schubert was to take as his short life neared its end.
His sense of balance in accompanying the melodic lines was quite superb especially when he had a fast pianissimo accompaniment played almost without a hint of pedal.

Jun Lin Wu in Perivale
It was in the great Sonata by Liszt that closed his recital in Perivale that it was the quieter more introspective passages that were so remarkable.
In Liszt his sparing use of pedal meant it lacked something of the grandeur in the passionate outbursts that abound.
Amazing technical control but I found right from the opening triplet declaration there could have been more weight.This of course is only a detail in a performance that had so many memorable moments.
The build up in the slow middle movement was quite breathtaking with sumptuous rich sounds.
The ending too built up to the eruption of the great octaves that were dispatched with all the ease of a young virtuoso.It was though in the final notes that his complete control of sound and colour were quite unique and will remain with me for a long time.

Jun Lin Wu introducing his programme in Perivale
The Sonata in B minor by Haydn with which he opened his Perivale recital was played with a great sense of style as he entered into the sound world that Haydn demands.
Extreme clarity allied to the most subtle phrasing were the hallmarks of a refreshingly simple performance.The Minuet was played with such beautiful colouring and the last movement was played with great energy maybe just a shade too fast for Haydn’s wit to shine through completely.
The Albeniz that he presented in the Wigmore Hall showed off all his extraordinary sense of colours and subtle shadings.The Prelude from the Cantos de Espana op 232 was played with such fibrile energy you could almost imagine the savage flamenco in course but with such exquisite interruptions of complete contrast.
El Albaicin and Triana were played with all the charm and exhilaration of Spain.His sense of balance was quite extraordinary as the melodic line passed from one part of the piano to another.
Cordoba that he also played as an encore in Perivale had such an irresistible sense of nostalgia mixed with charm I am amazed it is not heard more often in the concert hall.

Jun Lin Wu at the Wigmore Hall
His ravishing performances of Ravel will remain with me for a long time.
The beauty of sound and perfection of the Pavane was matched by the shimmering sounds that he regaled us with in Jeux d’eau.
La Valse was a tour de force of bravura.Starting with barely a murmur and leading to glissandi and the most trancendentally difficult passages dispatched as only a true virtuoso could.
It brought the Wigmore Hall concert to a breathtaking close.
A little piece of such subtle beauty by Sibelius was his way of thanking us and reminding us of the poet that we have in our midst today.

Programme in Perivale

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