Big new pianist

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I know this should technically go in the Noise blog, but I didn't want it to get lost in our upcoming blizzard of SXSW coverage, so here goes .... I LOVE YUNDI LI!

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Last night at Davies Hall, the SF Symphony accompanied this teen sensation in Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto #1, and it was a storm of fiery pyrotechnics -- fingers flew, strings broke, spirits soared, and everything sounded so beautifully complicated and romantic that, at the finale, the audience sprang to its feet and cheered (if you haven't noticed, standing ovations in this town are very few and far between -- too showy, maybe?)

Associate conductor James Gaffigan cut an archetypal "wild romantic conductor with wild romantic hair" figure (guess MTT was in Miami for the Winter Music Conference, heh), driving the symphony to ecstatic heights.

Li played off the whole thing wonderfully by holding back some of the Liberace theatrics usually exhibited by players of this extremely difficult piece, and delivering something somewhere between a jig and a computer program: wildly happy, but stopping on a dime and reversing for maximum dynamic effect. It was like sliding up an escalator to a heart attack, then plunging into a warm bath. I think. Also, pretty nifty was the symphony's rendition of Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" suite, which came off as mind-blowing as sonicly dropping a drawerful of keys on a twirling wood nymph at sunrise can ever come off.

This program runs for the next few days (there's still some tix available for Friday's 6:30 concert, available here) .... and check out some of Li's recordings if you can -- he's one of those prodigies worth hearing again and again. And yes, he's beautiful to boot. But I'm not sure if he's legal yet, so don't quote me.

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