Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wu Di

Like So-yeon Lee before her, Di Wu places her given name ahead of her surname, and she turned out to be the best colorist we've heard so far. (Even better than Spencer Myer, a frightening thought.) The first of many Chinese pianists here, she came out in a nifty purple and pink dress. She started with yet another Haydn performance that left me unmoved, although the other critics in the press room were raving about it. She won me over with her version of Ravel's Miroirs, evoking the waters in "Une barque sur l'ocean" with astonishing facility and capturing the Spanish flavor of "Alborada del gracioso". What is it with these Asian pianists and their affinity for Spanish music, by the way?

Her final piece, Liszt's transcription of the waltz from Gounod's Faust, struck me as a bit too calculated in its attempt to end her program with a traditional showpiece; the waltz rhythm in the opening and closing sections was galumphing. Still, she did take those big octaves very well, and the middle section of the piece gave her a great chance to do some exquisite filigree work in the upper register of the instrument. You can make a career out of being a cool, objective colorist if you're really, really good at it, and Di Wu is really, really good at it. She reminds me of the late Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, only we can assume that she won't be as flaky as he was. Very encouraging.

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