He did it! His new DVD certainly is a knock-out!
Here is his recital review from NY Times:
Yundi Li: Living Large With Schumann and Liszt [/b]
Published: April 5, 2006
One category of concert program says to its listeners, "Here is music you don't know and should, or else music you ought to be reminded of." Yundi Li's piano recital at Carnegie Hall on Monday evening was the other kind of program. Schumann's "Carnaval" and Liszt's B minor Sonata are two of the more celebrated and often repeated pieces in the repertory. When they appear side by side, we can be pretty certain that the evening is going to be more about a performer than about the pieces he plays.
Could Mr. Li say anything more about "Carnaval" than a thousand other performers, good and bad, have already said? Possibly, but unlikely. So Schumann in these circumstances becomes a yardstick: a device against which the person onstage is measured. Granted, the measurements here were impressive, and to be fair, a young man riding atop a swiftly rising career and given an unexpected opportunity to shine in a major hall (replacing the injured Murray Perahia) cannot be begrudged the chance to advertise himself.
Mr. Li has major manual skills, including an octave technique scarcely to be believed. The sound he makes on the piano is both vivid and enormous. The famous Liszt Sonata, like all good Liszt, is what a performer's mind and heart are capable of making it. If an Alfred Brendel finds in this music a roiling, introspective melancholy, Mr. Li goes, as many do, for the grand statement: huge bursts of sound, shiny passagework, dramatic pauses and tempo changes.
What saved Mr. Li's grandness from grandiosity is a very real musicality. He has a feel for Romantic style. He is also well trained in Mozartean correctness, as he showed at the start of the evening with the splendid C major Sonata (K. 330). And he has the kind of keyboard touch in which tones don't so much sound as speak.
When musicians can play as fast and as loud as this one, they do. Great surges in the Schumann, while brilliantly managed, tended to run away from the music and descend into technical glitter. Indeed, Monday night's playing made a backhanded argument for less virtuosity as a means toward better musicianship.
The righteous listener might have come away from Carnegie Hall asking, "Can this man play the kinds of music in which size and theatricality don't work?" Maybe he can. In the meantime, let us leave Mr. Li to frolic in the big arena, where he seems to be doing so well and having such a good time.