Winning live performances

CLASSICAL

BEETHOVEN PIANO CONCERTO NO. 4

CHOPIN SONATA NO. 2/BALLADE NO. 4

Eric Lu, Piano

Halle Orchestra/Edward Gardner

Warner Classics 0190295552152

5 stars

When 20-year-old Eric Lu was awarded first prize at the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition, he became the first ethnic Chinese pianist to do so and the first American to win the Leeds since Murray Perahia in 1972.

Lu's debut CD recording, a useful calling card, comprises performances from the heat of competition. While without the absolute perfection of recording studio sessions, these are very good live readings of popular works that can fully withstand repeated listens.

Chopin's Fourth Ballade builds majestically to an impassioned climax and unwinds with a fiery coda which simply sizzles. Equally trenchant is Lu's view of Chopin's Second Sonata, also known as the "Funeral March" Sonata. He never lets the tension sag, even in the eponymous slow movement, where true pathos emerges poignantly.

One cannot imagine Lu to have performed Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto In G Major many times prior to this, but he already sounds like a seasoned veteran alongside the Halle Orchestra.

The piano's opening solo chords are taken with a clear sense of purpose and the barnstorming outer movements are robustly held together.

The conversation with orchestral strings in the "Orpheus taming the Furies" episode of the slow movement is rapt, little wonder he was voted to win the Orchestra Prize outright.

Lu replaces an indisposed Martha Argerich at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert at the Esplanade on Friday evening, performing Chopin's First Piano Concerto. Try not to miss this.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2019, with the headline 'Winning live performances'. Print Edition | Subscribe