Young pianist shines with VSO
REVIEW / The first time I heard Avan Yu he was 14, playing Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Vancouver Symphony in a summer park concert.

That was astonishing enough, not being an easy work to play.

Now 19, he topped that one by a mile on Saturday, playing Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto, probably the scariest work in the book. There seems to be no end to what this kid can do.

At first it seemed arrogant that he'd even play it but then this work is all about arrogance, written by a young Prokofiev and designed to twist the tail of academic convention. If it shocked people, so what?

As usual, it scandalized half the audience while the other half purred at its modernism. Prokofiev premiered it at the piano and, sensing the division in the house, came on again and brattily played an encore.

It isn't shocking any more - we're used to Prokofiev now - and it isn't even his best work, the odd-numbered concertos, like the symphonies, being the better ones. But for the pianist it's still shockingly difficult, especially that very long opening movement cadenza.

The work is so fragmentary that just memorizing it alone - and it's about a half-hour long - is a feat in itself. Yu's performance was head-shaking.

... he has killer fingers and what's more, he has a definite ear for tone. Like Prokofiev, he played an encore and it was ravishing.
Lloyd Dykk, The Vancouver Sun
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