Our second date with Saturday evening’s quintet of pianists revealed some shortcomings we hadn’t noticed before, and one pianist quite happily presented a completely different personality from our first encounter on Wednesday evening.
Kwan Yi (USA) was all robotic energy three nights ago, plowing breathlessly through Beethoven and Chopin with admirable technique but not pausing to enjoy the sights along his musical journey. On Saturday, he revealed his gentler, more expressive side with a ruminative performance of Bach’s g minor Prelude and Fugue (WTC I) and a fine trek through Dutilleux’s ‘Le jeu des contraires’ in which he demonstrated varieties of touch and an ability to draw a big sound out of the Hamburg Steinway without succumbing to harshness. An impressively clear performance of Chopin (Ballade No. 3 in A-flat and Scherzo No. 3 in c-sharp) also showed that he’s able to be simultaneously dramatic and sensitive. Some of the quirky body language remains, but there was less of it (the Dutilleux ended with Yi frozen in a long pose facing the audience).