Yuchong Wu at St Mary’s The simplicity and beauty of a great artist

Thursday 26 May 3.00 pm

Dear Christopher,Have a look at Yuchong Wu yesterday. He arrived at 3.0 and had no warm up time. His Schubert was wonderful – fabulous slow movement. He dedicated his recital to Radu Lupu which was nice… https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2019/02/09/the-indian-summer-of-a-giant-radu-lupu-plays-beethoven/


and this is what I found…………

Some very refined playing of such simplicity and crystalline beauty but not that of an Ingrid Haebler but more like the luminous sound of Geza Anda.But there was also great temperament and phrasing of a subtle beauty without ever disturbing the mechanism that Mozart so miraculously sets in motion.Playing of great honesty without feeling the need to add embellishments that these days we are told are historically correct.There was absolute precision with sounds etched in gold played with a freshness and exhilaration.Drama too in the development but always in style where his temperament was inside the very notes he was playing with such humility.There was a smile of joyful recognition on his face as he returned to the opening theme in the recapitulation.Such beautifully distilled luminous sounds in the Andante with the clashing dissonances played with real astonishment and the ending of timeless beauty.The disarming simplicity of the Allegretto was so gracefully elegant but there was brilliance too as he arrived at the cadenza and then the almost nostalgic final phrases interrupted as Beethoven would have done with three no nonsense chords.This indeed was a real tribute to Radu Lupu who could play with the disarming simplicity of a child and disprove that Mozart is too difficult for adults but too easy for children.There are a few great artists who can reveal the naivety of a child with the experience of an adult.Yuchong like Radu Lupu is one of the chosen few.


An opening of such subtle phrasing and sensibility to changing harmonies .A wondrous sense of balance where the duet between tenor and treble voices was magically judged.There was something very special about the transition from B flat to C sharp minor a whole new world opened up with just three chords played with a quite unique sensibility as we entered the development. A journey full of wondrous surprises and an attempt at a climax where the bubble explodes to reveal ever more wondrous visions of the world that was awaiting Schubert only a few months later.A hauntingly whispered coda prepared us for the marvels that were to await in the Andante sostenuto.Yuchong’s fingers blessed by the Gods indeed. The sheer beauty of the slow movement was sublime as not only the beauty of the melody but the delicacy of the embellishments had something of miraculous.The stillness and purity that this young Chinese pianist found came across even on the streaming and just proved that St Mary’s may be redundant as a church but it is certainly not deconsecrated!Miracles can still happen!The rich Brahmsian chorale was played with ravishing sound and the return to the opening melody with even more delicate embroidery was in Dr Mathers usually measured words ,simply sublime.What can one say after that about the scherzo that was played with refreshing vigour and delicacy as Schubert himself asks and a Trio where the sforzandi pianos were played so gently with none of the jack in the box accents that are usual and totally out of place.The wonderfully luminous call to order of the single note ‘G’ chiming out as the Allegro ma non troppo unfolds with such simple energy before Schubert bursts into his final miraculous melodic outpouring.Leading to moments of great drama and passion all played with such simple honest musicianship.A memorable performance from a young man who had been held up in traffic and just had time to sit at the piano and allow pure simple music to pour from his poetic soul.

Yuchong Wu was born into a musical family in China in 1995. He began playing the piano at the age of four and made his debut recital at the age of nine. In 2010 he entered The Juilliard School with a full scholarship, and continued his study toward a bachelor’s degree. During his time at Juilliard, he has been guided by Veda Kaplinsky, Matti Raekallio and Robert McDonald. Yuchong has also worked privately with Paul Badura Skoda, Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler, Robert Levin, and Murray Perahia. More recently he has been studying at the Royal Academy of Music. He is a laureate of numerous international competitions such as the Sixth Tchaikovsky International Youth Music Competition (2009, second prize), the Sendai International Piano Competition (2013, the special jury award and the audience prize), the Warsaw Chopin International Piano Competition (2015), the Leeds International Piano Competition (2018) and many others.


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