Canadian pianist Avan Yu brings the audience to their feet

APPEARING in Adelaide for the third time, and before a third full house, affable Canadian pianist Avan Yu introduced each of the works in a well devised program, all played from memory, with a wisdom and insight that belies his 26 years.

Mind you, that was Mozart’s age when he composed the Sonata No. 13 in B Flat Major K.333, ditto Scriabin’s Sonata-Fantasy in g sharp minor Op.19 and the pieces that make up Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage. All of these were given quite outstanding performances.

Yu invested the Mozart with all the delicacy it deserves, and the drive that the last movement demands.

The Scriabin could hardly be more different, stylistically, being an intense meditation on the sea, from a calm, moonlit evening to turbulent storms. Yu conjured up the atmospherics in a most commanding and believable way. Also highly elemental was the Liszt Sonetto del Petrarca 123, a fabulously descriptive piece, with glorious depictions of the “beauties of the skies”, “brute Nature’s sympathies” and “wildest gales” of the poem that inspired it.

The concluding account of Ravel’s La Valse was breathtaking not only for its virtuosity but for its profundity. The changes of mood from flighty waltz to wry cliché to danse macabre were achieved with cumulative impact, to the extent that the Elder Hall audience – not the least-informed in this or any other town – leapt to their feet at its end.

Peter Burdon,
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