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Emperor / Fantasy

4 customer reviews

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“. . . the recording is fabulous. Yundi Li, the brilliant young Chinese pianist . . . has proved a technically astounding pianist who is by turns elegant and rambunctious, coolly expressive and white-hot. The surging, rhapsodic and daunting Prokofiev concerto is an ideal piece for him. He also gives a splendid account of the Ravel: crackling with energy in the first movement, dreamy in ... Read more in Amazon's Yundi Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Emperor / Fantasy + Mozart: Piano Concerto No.25 In C Major K.503;  Piano Concerto No.20 In D Minor K.466
Price For Both: £15.43

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Product details

  • Conductor: Daniel Harding
  • Composer: Beethoven, Schumann
  • Audio CD (19 Feb. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B00HS95HPO
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,626 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major Op.73 -"Emperor" - 1. AllegroBerliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Harding and Yundi20:16Album Only
  2. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 In E Flat Major Op.73 -"Emperor" - 2. Adagio un poco mossoBerliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Harding and Yundi 8:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major Op.73 -"Emperor" - 3. Rondo (Allegro)Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Harding and Yundi10:16Album Only
  4. Schumann: Fantasie in C, Op.17 - 1. Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen - Im Legenden-TonYundi11:35Album Only
  5. Schumann: Fantasie in C, Op.17 - 2. Mäßig. Durchaus energisch - Etwas langsamer - VielbewegterYundi 7:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Schumann: Fantasie in C, Op.17 - 3. Langsam getragen. Durchweg leise zu halten - Etwas bewegterYundi 9:25£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Chinese superstar YUNDI records Beethoven s Emperor Concerto with conductor Daniel Harding and the Berlin Philharmonic. The recording includes a performance of a solo work, Schumann s Fantasie in C.

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By José Carapeto on 4 May 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In time and as described
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By Jaycee.Ge on 2 Feb. 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Nice album.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Urwrong on 18 Nov. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD arrived pretty quickly, packed very nicely.
I bought it as a xmas gift for a friend of mine, I haven't given it out yet, but I am very satisfied with it.
I would recommend it, nice product!
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harry on 30 Mar. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
beautiful performance - have listened to it repeatedly with great satisfaction. compares very well with the many other versions I have listened to.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The question is how much heart, thought, and soul Yundi communicates through his prodigious talent 6 May 2014
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Interpretation is largely a matter of taste, and everyone's taste differs. Certainly, Yundi's present reading of the "Emperor" Concerto is as exciting and entertaining as they come.

Anyway, Beethoven composed his Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat, Op. 73, "Emperor," in 1809, premiering it in 1811 and dedicating it to the Archduke Rudolf, his patron and student at the time. It was the composer's final piano concerto, and it would go on to become one of his most-popular pieces of music. The work's "Emperor" nickname, though, was not of Beethoven's doing. In fact, he probably would not have liked it, given his disillusionment with the Emperor Napoleon. It was most likely Beethoven's publisher who gave the piece the "Emperor" appellation, or possibly it was the fact that Beethoven first presented the music in Vienna at a celebration of the Austrian Emperor's birthday.

No matter who's playing the "Emperor," the pianist must provide a big, bold opening Allegro, and here Yundi does so in spades, the whole performance full of energy, enthusiasm, and, above all, virtuosity. Maestro Harding maintains some brisk tempos, yet they are never terribly fast or rushed, so both the piano playing and the orchestral accompaniment seem well within the Romantic tradition.

In the opening, where the piano enters immediately, Yundi is dazzling, his finger work a marvel to hear. This is a spectacular realization of the score, with the Berlin Philharmonic providing a sparkling accompaniment. Yet for all the ear-catching dazzle, it still left me wondering if Serkin, Kovacevich, Ashkenazy, Kempff, and others don't provide a more penetrating interpretation. While Yundi surely maintains a riveting forward momentum, he hardly slows down enough to give us much more than that, and when he does relax, it seems almost perfunctory, as though the score simply obligated him to do so, without much real feeling in it. Exciting, as I say, yes, and for many listeners that's no doubt more than enough. To which I say, fair enough; it is quite magnificent piano playing.

Although Yundi takes the Adagio a bit more briskly than any of the pianists I mentioned above, he nevertheless keeps the mood glowingly serene and effects a smooth melodic flow throughout. Again, however, the movement failed to touch me as much as other renditions have, the melancholy of the music somewhat eluding the pianist. Then Yundi makes a seamless transition into the final Rondo-Allegro, which may seem a little too calculated for some ears but worked fine for me. He ends things on an appropriately rollicking, heroic note.

German composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote his Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17 for solo piano in 1836, revising it for publication in 1839. The first movement is melodious and impassioned, the second movement grand and majestic, and the finale leisurely and contemplative. Beethoven was apparently the inspiration for Schumann when he wrote the Fantasy, along with Schumann's longing for his beloved Clara. Yundi says of the work, "I wanted to create a sonority which echoes what Schumann called 'drawing a veil' over the music. What lies beneath the veil could be palpable, but one can never really tell what it is or what it looks like. This is the sense of the Fantasy--a grey area where reality and Romanticism co-exist. I hope the listener will be able to hear this complexity in my recording and pick up on this feeling of not being able to put one's finger on something."

I found Yundi's realization of Schumann more to my liking than his Beethoven, with not just the music but even the piano sounding more resonant and glowing. That I continue to wish he would communicate a greater emotional range in his playing is probably attributable to my own sentimentality rather than any reflection on Yundi's style. His Fantasy has a sweet, calming, uplifting effect on one's spirit, and one can hardly complain about that.

The sound in the Concerto is supremely clear and clean, every note reproduced in minute detail. It's also just a tad bright and forward in the upper midrange, with only modest orchestral depth, but these are minor concerns. The Berlin Philharmonic produce a rich, lush, glorious sound, and it's good to hear them miked at a moderate distance in a studio, without an audience present. The piano is dominant, of course, yet it isn't so far forward that it spoils the illusion of realism. The piano in the Fantasy sounds, as I say, warmer and more resonant, a touch less hard and bright.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Yundi is more proficient than personal, but these are enjoyable, sometimes sweeping readings 26 April 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Since the meteoric rise of Lang Lang made music lovers aware of Chinese virtuosos, it's seemed that their weak link was the Viennese classics. Between them, the superstar Chinese pianists have avoided Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and Schumann in favor of the virtuosic tradition that stems from Liszt to Rachmaninov. It was groundbreaking for Yundi to release his previous Beethoven album, which now has a follow-up in this release of the Emperor Cto. and Schumann's Fantasy in C.

Its success depends upon your perspective. Yundi's consideration of Beethoven as a musical challenge concentrates almost solely on fingerwork. In the opening flourish of the emperor, for example, he doesn't phrase but instead tosses off a volley of notes at high speed. Comparisons with Schnabel, Gieseking, Michelangeli, and Serkin would be devastating. But there's another perspective, which begins by noting that those keyboard giants are long dead, and that pianism in general has shifted away from "depth" (define it was you will) to dazzle, a shift that audiences are happy to go along with.

If that's your viewpoint, Yundi is a dazzler, and the fact that he is disconnected from the great Beethoven tradition of the past is beside the point. The accompaniment that Daniel Harding provides sounds to me like a vigorous run through; there's not much consideration of style from him, either, and there's no doubt that the Berlin Phil. (the priciest orchestra for the job, reflecting Yundi's sales power) can do a run-through as well as it can be done.

As for his virtues musiclaly, Yundi isn't a banger, and his fortissimo chords, captured in excellent, undistorted sound, are powerful in the the right way, not merely an assault on the keys. He knows how to play softly, and in general I found his phrasing less flat-footed and literal-minded than in the previous sonata program. But the slow movement, taken as an Andante (walking pace) rather than an Adagio, isn't very tender or atmospheric - here Yundi does sound too literal, despite his feathery touch. the considerable difficulties of the finale are beautifully, even effortlessly handled; the second subject is a bit inert, however, where it needs to be springy and joyful. This is essentially a safe, proficiently handled Emperor delivered with tremendous technical aplomb, and if you want this concerto to be a thrill ride, Yundi's closest rival is probably Kissin with Levine on Sony, where the thrills are even more exciting.

Kissin's fairly early (1996) recording of the Schumann Fantasy might be a god starting point for listening to Yundi's. Like Richter, a truly great Schumann interpreter, Kissin easily encompasses the score's virtuosic side, but he's less secure with its poetic and reflective side - he applies the right gestures in a less personal way. Richter was such a powerful force that he could muscle through Schumann with a certain aggression while still communicating the poetry - the combination felt like volatile, spontaneous Romanticism. with Kissin there was a certain loss of passion and personality, but you felt his link to the past.

With Yundi, the technically difficult first movement is tossed off with panache, and his phrasing feels quite natural, perhaps because Schumann is so close to Liszt's effusiveness, and Yundi began his career by impressing critics with both his Liszt and Chopin. the only problem is that he's structurally wayward; each passage is beautiful, but segmented from the next passage. the tempo is also a bit doggedly forward-moving. The second movement is a march that Richter tore into with a vengeance. Yundi is smoother and more fluid. The big first statement comes off well, but he gets into the weeds with the cross-rhythms and weaving subjects that follow. It's like hearing the Hammerklavier Sonata played by leaping for one tough technical passage to the next without much to knit them together. Most judges of pianism consider the third movement the most challenging to hold together without dissolving into pastel reverie. Yundi tends to wander, even by comparison with the somewhat impersonal Kissin. There is also a prevailing air of caution that surprised me.

so nothing here rises to the level of truly memorable interpretation, but everything is clean, shapely, and tasteful. The solo piano sounds gorgeous in the Schumann. I doubt that DG will have any difficulty finding a market for Yundi's efforts, and in the wider viewpoint, he's doing a service by undertaking the Viennese tradition.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Good Emperor Concerto 22 Jun. 2014
By T. E. Layman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I found Yundi's playing to be pretty straightforward and without a great deal of embellisment. Others have reviewed this recording and accuse him of little or no soul in the music, and too many pyrotechnics. I found his tempos to be fairly standard in the concerto and had I listened on the radio and heard this recording would have thought it was one of the older Europeans. I thought it to be a good Fifth Piano Concerto, but not at the level it would bump off the holders of the pinnacle. I have to admit the inability to understand the Schumann Fantasy. I have heard it many many times and have yet to hear a recording I think makes it intelligible to me; it may just be the music itself. I have the same problem with Mahler's Eighth Symphony. Much as I love Mahler's Symphonies and lieder I cannot connect with the Eighth. Same with the Fantasy. Easily recommended for the Concerto, but there are others out there as good, and perhaps better.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A great CD should not be missed 4 May 2014
By bing li - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A different still unique Yundi Li in Beethoven Piano Concerto Emperor. A passionate BPO and decisive Yundi teams up so well under Harding. Beautiful playing!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent recording 12 Jun. 2014
By Wayne Hanna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A fan of Yundi. This is a superb performance of the Emperor Concerto. A quality recording and can be seen onYoutube.
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