One of the few silver linings to arise out of this incessant pandemic has been the boundless, world-class music events made available (often for free) for livestreaming on a variety of platforms. Taking advantage of as many of these musical offerings as my Zoomed-out brain has allowed, one day last October I spent a few sublime hours on YouTube watching the livestream of the 2021 Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. I was enthralled, in particular, by Bruce Liu, who in fact, went on to become the first Canadian to win the prestigious competition!
Shortly thereafter, Deutsche Grammophon (DG) released this CD featuring live highlights of Liu’s solo performances from the competition’s various rounds. According to Liu, DG chose the playlist: the entire round one recital of two Etudes (Op.10 No.4; Op.25 No.4), a Nocturne (Op.27 No.1) and the fourth Scherzo; the Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise Brillante, and a Waltz (Op.42) from the second round; the Op.33 Mazurkas and the Variations on “La ci darem la mano” from round three.
Rather than parse out bits and pieces from those performances, I wish to say this about Bruce Liu: the to-be-expected and breathtaking technical prowess aside, what sets Liu apart from the others is his risk-taking spontaneity. His interpretations are revelatory; his joy in playing, palpable. He is a sparkling, elegant and original virtuoso. A true sensation!
Bruce Liu will continue to enchant a worldwide audience. This keepsake CD will continue to remind us why.