Eric Lu

The Guardian - G2 - - Live Reviews - Rian Evans

★★★★★ St Ge­orge’s, Bris­tol

The Chi­nese Amer­i­can Eric Lu turns 21 next month, yet in this first UK recital since win­ning the Leeds in­ter­na­tional piano com­pe­ti­tion in Septem­ber, his per­for­mance showed the kind of grace and wis­dom that usu­ally comes only with great age.

It’s tempt­ing to sug­gest Lu made his mark from the pro­gramme’s for­tis­simo open­ing note. In fact, he did so in the sec­ond, third, and fourth notes of Schu­bert’s Im­promptu in C mi­nor, played with breath­tak­ing pi­anis­simo fi­nesse. This in­stant im­pres­sion of in­ter­pre­tive lu­cid­ity and dar­ing was con­firmed in each suc­ces­sive im­promptu of the D899 se­quence of four. And in the Chopin Bal­lade in F mi­nor came id­iomatic and deeply in­stinc­tive shap­ing of ev­ery phrase.

Mozart’s Rondo in A mi­nor, K511, was gen­tly an­guished, but with the clar­ity that made it a per­fect pre­lude to Chopin’s Sec­ond Sonata in B flat mi­nor. Here was im­pec­ca­ble tech­nique with no trace of histri­on­ics: Lu’s calm fo­cus was on the char­ac­ter of the mu­sic and qual­ity of sound. It is an ex­cep­tional pi­anist who can de­liver limpid legato tone of aching beauty and bring to the dif­fer­ent ap­pear­ances of a melody im­plicit un­der­stand­ing and in­fin­itely nu­anced colours.

It might be prefer­able to avoid hyp­ing a young­ster at the start of his ca­reer, but Lu seems al­ready to pos­sess some­thing of the magic touch of early Leeds lau­re­ates Mur­ray Per­ahia and Radu Lupu, and is surely one of the most ex­cit­ing prospects in a long time. A ver­i­ta­ble poet of the key­board.

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