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Review: Complete mastery from pianist Ji Liu

Complete mastery from pianist Ji Liu

Review by Simon Machin

The gratifyingly full house at the Drill Hall for the Horsham music Circle concert by the charismatic Chinese pianist Ji Liu, had clearly been drawn there by the prospect of witnessing something truly special.

As soon as his fingers touched the keyboard, Ji Liu met these expectations, revealing a distinctive musical personality, technical brilliance and the capacity to rethink well-known pieces, qualities that have made him one of the breakthrough classical artists of recent years.

Playing without a break, he brought great clarity of line to works by Scarlatti and Rameau before embarking upon a genuinely passionate rendering of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata, graced by warm tone and extraordinary rhythmic vitality.

In 2016, Ji Liu released a chart-topping album, ‘Pure Chopin’, and the eight waltzes that opened the second half lived up to this billing.

Complete technical mastery allows Ji Liu to relax into the music, turning each miniature into a self-contained soundscape filled with cascading fountains, elegant geometry and sunlit vistas, while charting its bittersweet, emotional depths. A truly sinister and spellbinding Danse Macabre by Saint-Saen ended a brilliant concert, which suggests that Ji Liu will fulfill his dream of making classical music accessible to everyone.

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